My favorite fairy tale has been Beauty and the Beast for a very long time. Since girlhood, I have reveled in the heart wrenching romance of the beloved Beauty returning to the Beast as he expired at the shore of the lake, just in time for her love to save him from death of a broken heart.
I still love the magic of the tale, but it has been my life, and I’m tired of it. I’ve met and tried to love several monster types. Not one was saved by my love; not one was a gentle, noble soul deep inside. So, I have to change my favorite fairy tale. Beauty and the Beast will always have a place in my heart, but it doesn’t ring true, and I don’t want to believe in it anymore.
In fact, none of the classic fairy tales will do for me. Princesses who are drudges, or find happiness in cleaning up after others, or who are freaks with huge hair living in isolation. All leave me cold.
I must say, Briar Rose has appeal for me right now: he who can fight his way through a wall of treacherous thorns is the man who may have me. Yeah. I can dig it. But still, it’s a mighty passive princess, sleeping until the kiss of true love awakens her. And it doesn’t ring true, either. The prince takes one look at her and is in love on the spot? Right. He hasn’t even had one conversation with her, and she hasn’t even SEEN him, let alone found out what is his favorite color or whether he is a dog person or not. So the Briar Rose won’t do for me, either, even though I DO like that hedge of thorns.
A story that I read as a girl, the romance of which made me cry, was “The Light Princess” by George MacDonald. We start with a singularly selfish Princess and a dashing Prince. He loves her, but it is unrequited. The Princess must have her lake and boat to float on it, to relieve her of a curse put over her in infancy. And then an evil aunty begins to drain the lake. The Princess will lose the only place where normalcy is hers.
The prince puts himself in place to stop the water draining, and the princess continues in her selfishness, mocking him as the water rises. At the very end, when only his face is above water, he pleads for a kiss. When she realizes that he loved her that much, the princess kisses him, and then the water is over his head and he dies.
I cried! What more beautiful love story is there, than one where the Lover gives His life for the Beloved? The Princess cries, too, and her curse is forever lifted. I believe in that kind of love. The love of God who sacrificed His own self, in order to bring life to us, whom He loves.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.