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Beauty and The Beast - A Parable

By       Message Harold Novikoff       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink

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(An allegory for society and government)

The new Disney version of Beauty and the Beast reminds us of the timeless fascination of the tale. There have been many versions of the story in world literature and, with a little interpretation of the main characters, I find that it will serve as a parable for our times.

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Beauty, in my version, represents beauty in the largest sense: all the goodness of life - her character, love, kindness and consideration for everyone, honesty, modesty, love of nature's beauty (her desire for a beautiful rose), and so forth. The Beast in the story is not an evil character, but is truly a prince under a curse trapped inside the body of a monster, waiting to be released by an act of love.

In my version, the Beast is also not an evil character, but is a primitive being, something like an ape or early man motivated solely by primitive instincts. Whereas in the original version of the tale the princely Beast and Beauty have extensive conversations, in my version of the parable they cannot have meaningful conversations because there is a great gulf of civilization between them. The Beast has not attained a sufficiently mature state of humanity to carry on a rational conversation. He is concerned only with his own survival and welfare, while Beauty represents the love and welfare of all humanity.

So in our modern societies and governments. There is painfully slow and little resolution of the discord between the welfare of the individual and that of society in general - or between individual groups and states - despite traditions of justice and historic principles embodied in documents such as the American Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; despite peace-loving religious and spiritual institutions; and despite shared artistic, intellectual and scientific cultures throughout the world.

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While misunderstandings from lack of knowledge and familiarity with each other can be a significant part of the disunity among our societies, the basic problem, according to my interpretation of the parable, is the gap in social maturity. I would define this as an ability to accommodate to the realities of the times with the purpose of promoting peace and genuine human progress. The people whom we select to govern us according to enlightened principles of promoting the general welfare must be those demonstrating a worldly social maturity. Instead, we seem to have been taken captive by leaders from a primitive tribe of cannibals or other beasts from a distant past who appeal to our most primitive instincts.


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Veteran, retired from several occupations (school teacher, technical writer, energy conservation business, etc.) long-time Sierra Club member

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