Beauty & the Beast Summary: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Would you prefer Disney's ''Beauty and the Beast'' or the lesser-known tale written hundreds of years ago? It's always best to go to the original source, so the short story it is! In this lesson, we'll summarize the author's version of this popular classic.

A Different Sort

Have you ever watched the movie, ''Beauty and the Beast?'' Or, have you read the story? You might be surprised to hear that the movie and the original version of ''Beauty and the Beast'', written by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve, are very different.

Multiple versions of the classic story of Beauty and the Beast exist.
beauty, beast, Villeneuve, Disney

Think you know ''Beauty and the Beast''? Think again! We're going to focus on the original telling of the story in this lesson.

Summarizing ''Beauty and the Beast''

A merchant (or trader) has six daughters, six sons and a successful career. The youngest of his daughters is Bella, and she is very beautiful and kind. His older daughters, however, are spoiled and selfish.

One day, the merchant loses all his wealth and possessions, including his ships. His family is forced to live in a small farmhouse and do hard work to survive.

Several years go by, and the merchant receives word that one of his ships has made it back to port. He hurries to meet the ship, certain that the goods will restore his family's wealth. He asks each of his children what gifts they would like him to bring back. Bella asks only for a rose because she hasn't seen one in a long time.

The Journey

The merchant sets out for the port, only to discover the goods on his ship have been divided among his former friends. They had believed the merchant to be dead.

The merchant turns to complete the long, hard trip home, as poor as when he started. Along the path, he encounters terrible weather and is overcome with exhaustion. It's then that he encounters a castle, where he makes his way inside to seek out food and warmth.

In the Castle

Once inside, the merchant finds everything he could ever hope for: a table with lots to eat and drink and a room with a roaring fire, where he lies down to take a nap. The next morning, the merchant still has not seen anyone on the castle grounds, so he explores a bit. He decides that the empty castle was meant for him and his children. So he decides to go home and bring the children back to live there.

As he's preparing to leave, he snips a rose from a bush for Bella. He is confronted by the Beast, who asks: ''Who told you that you might gather my roses? Wasn't it enough that I allowed you to be in my castle and was kind to you? This is the way you show your gratitude, by stealing my flowers!''

The merchant tells the Beast about his daughter who hoped for the rose. The Beast responds by telling him that he must be punished for stealing the rose, and he should return to the castle in two months with one of his daughters. The Beast adds that the daughter must agree to come willingly.

Returning Home

The next morning, the merchant sets off for home, with the rose for Bella and gifts from the castle for his other children. His children are happy to see him, but his daughters blame Bella for her request for the rose. His sons threaten to go kill the Beast. Bella, alone, decides to return to the castle with her father and fulfill the Beast's request.

Meeting the Beast

Bella and her father return to the castle and meet the Beast. He allows them to gather riches for Bella's siblings. But he warns the merchant: ''...remember that you must never expect to see my castle again.''

The next morning, Bella asks the Beast how she can make him happy. ''Only be grateful,' he answered, 'and don't trust too much to your eyes. And, above all, don't desert me till you have saved me from my cruel misery.''

Settling In the Castle

Bella begins to explore the castle, where she is given everything her heart could desire: the finest clothes, great meals, musical instruments and a library of books to read.

At dinner, the Beast appears and asks Bella if she will marry him. She tells him no. She has been dreaming of a handsome young prince.

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