|Jean Marais and Josette Day in Jean Cocteau's La Belle et la Bête (1946)|
Tomorrow we'll get into the story that's generally acknowledged to have founded the genre, but all of my favorite tropes of gothic romance are present in Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve's Beauty and the Beast, published in 1740, a couple of decades before The Castle of Otranto. It's all about an innocent, young woman who's taken to a secluded castle against her will and lorded over by a sinister nobleman. That's the premise of all the best gothic romances, though there are many variations, especially around how the young woman escapes her predicament.
Beauty and the Beast has my favorite way though. A lot of gothic romances include a handsome, young, male hero who saves the woman from her malevolent master, but Beauty and the Beast lets her escape on her own. Or more accurately, choose not to escape by falling in love with the beast. Which is why I love the story so much.
|George C Scott and Trish Van Devere in Beauty and the Beast (1976)|
The Misunderstood Monster archetype became a powerful role model for me and explains my affection for characters from Frankenstein's Monster to Chewbacca. But it all started with the Beast and I've loved pretty much every iteration of the story I've ever seen. And my attachment to that story with it's spooky castle, monstrous noble, and heroic girl apparently also created a desire to see still other variations. And my love of gothic romance was born.
|Walter Crane (1874)|
|Eleanor Vere Boyle (1875)|
|Lancelot Speed (1913)|
|Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman in the Beauty and the Beast TV series (1987-1990)|
|Disney's Beauty and the Beast (1991)|
|Vincent Cassel and Léa Seydoux in La Belle et la Bête (2014)|