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The Tiger's Bride

In many respects, Angela Carter’s The Tiger’s Bride is a retelling of Madame De Beaumont’s Beauty and the BeastThe Tiger's BrideBoth concern the plight of a young girl who is forced to live with an animal (literally a beast).  In the end, both women choose to stay with the beast, falling in love with the creature.  Perhaps the greatest difference between the two is the transformation at the end of the story.  In De Beaumont’s tale, the Beast is revealed as human, cursed by an evil fairy.  In Carter’s retelling, the girl is transformed into a tiger herself, as the beast licks the skin off of her.

But perhaps the most interesting symbol that appears in both of these stories is the rose.  In De Beaumont, the merchant picks some roses to take to Beauty, who had asked for some before the journey.  In The Tiger’s Bride, the image of the rose appears three times: Beauty’s English nurse calls her “Christmas rose,” because she was born on Christmas Day; the Beast gives her the rose from his button hole upon his arrival; the valet hands her several white roses, one of which she gives to her father, smeared with her own blood.

The rose is a popular symbol in romantic literature.  Roses symbolize love, especially a pure and perfect love.  Roses were often used in mediaeval romance tales, and their use in De Beaumont and Carter is very much in keeping with this tradition.

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