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The enduring popularity of 'Beauty and the Beast' tales

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There is something very romantic and intriguing about the idea of a beautiful woman being drawn to someone whose is aesthetically flawed. Maybe it’s because these Beauty and the Beast stories represents a purer love; one that can transcend superficiality and our natural instinct to gravitate toward beautiful, fresh, healthy looking specimens. These stories speak of true love, something all of humanity longs for but which eludes all but a privileged few. While some of these books feature a heroine who gives her entire heart to her scared hero, others are more reluctant to enter into a romance with these less than dashing suitors, such as in Phantom of the Opera and The Hunchback of Note Dame. Still, the heroine comes out of the experience, changed. She inevitably grows and acquires the ability to see past the surface and into the soul of her “beast”; perhaps altering her view of love forever.

Phantom of the Opera
Phantom of the Opera Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

Phantom of the Opera

The Phantom of the Opera, about a young singer who becomes a an opera star due to the attention of her disfigured voice coach who haunts the opera house, is one of the best loved and most memorable of the "Beauty and the Beast" genre.

Beauty and the Beast
Beauty and the Beast Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Beauty and the Beast

The ultimate story in this genre is, of course, the fairytale Beauty ad the Beast, well loved by the young and old for generations. This popular tale has seen many reincarnations over the years including, stage, screen and animated adaptations.

Memoirs of a Geisha
Memoirs of a Geisha Evan Agostini

Memoirs of a Geisha

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden was an enormously popular novel that made it's way to the big screen in 2002. This sweeping historic epic is about many relationships but one of Sayuri most compelling, if not her most passionate, was with a man who had a face only a mother could love.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The Hunchback of Notre Dame Marc Piasecki

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Victor Hugo's masterpiece The Hunchback of Notre Dame, is one of the most touching stories ever written. It is impossible to not fall in love with this tenderhearted bell ringer who needs love just as much as, if not more, than anyone else and has a true devotion for his beloved Esmeralda.

Cyrano de Bergerac
Cyrano de Bergerac Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

Cyrano de Bergerac

To think that one rather large nose came between what could have been a lifetime of love, in Edmond Rostand's play inspired the real life Cyrano de Bergerac. There is more than a little irony in story in which Cyrano finds out that Roxane loves him despite his unusual appearance. This story is has made it to the big screen a number of times and has inspired many similar tales.

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