The purpose of the fairy tale “Beauty and the Beast” was to help young girls accept arranged marriages.
The story of Beauty and the Beast was meant for girls who would likely have their marriages arranged. Beauty is traded by her impoverished father for safety and material wealth, and sent to live with a terrifying stranger. De Beaumont’s story emphasizes the nobility in Beauty’s act of self-sacrifice, while bracing readers…“for an alliance that required effacing their own desires and submitting to the will of a monster.”
Beauty, naturally, sacrifices herself…. Her actions inform readers that to “save” their own families by entering into marriages is noble, while preparing them for the prospect of embarking on their own acts of self-sacrifice…. “Many an arranged marriage must have felt like being tethered to a monster.”
In a Ghanaian story, “Tale of the Girl and the Hyena-Man,” a young woman declares she won’t marry the husband her parents have chosen. She picks a stranger instead…Unfortunately, he turns out to be a hyena in disguise…. The tale concludes succinctly: “The story of her adventures was told to all, and that is why to this day women do not choose husbands for themselves and also that is why children have learned to obey their elders who are wiser than they.”