Beauty is selfless, and perhaps that is why she has no name. She is nameless. All girls are supposed to become “beauties,” i.e., selfless and nameless. There is a false power attributed to Beauty as a virtue. By sacrificing oneself, it is demonstrated, the powers that be will reward her with the perfect husband. The most important thing is to learn to obey and worship one’s father (authority) and to fill one’s promises even though they are made under duress.
Beauty always chooses to fulfill her obligations rather than follow her heart. Although it does turn out that, by fulfilling her obligations, her heart is rewarded, it is plain to see that her destiny depends on self-denial that, she comes to believe, is a wish-fulfillment.
Beauty can be admired for her courage and simultaneously deprecated for submitting to the will of two men, her father and the Beast. It would seem that she actually seeks to be dominated and to be praised for her submission as a virtuous and courageous act.
Her identity is determined by them. Her function in life is predetermined. Beauty must learn to tame her own desires to fit a male civilizing code in such a way that she appears to be the agent of her own desires. However, in complying with the Beast’s desire, she is compliant with her father and the socio-psychological prescriptives that promise rewards for masochistic behavior. The reward is a move up the social ladder: Beauty comes from the mercantile class and will become ennobled by marrying the beast/prince. But her noble action, self-sacrifice for father and Beast, will only strengthen the bonds of domination that will constrain her for the rest of her life.
Why must the Beast have a virginal daughter to compensate for the father’s trespass? Why must he manipulate her to rescue him? Why does he have to be the provider, the keeper of her castle? Why can’t he find a way to nurture himself from within? The fact is – if we can speak about facts – Beast’s desires have also been scripted or pre-scripted, for he ostensibly knows no other way to win a woman then through power and emotional blackmail. The Beast must play upon preconditioned sentiments in Beauty to feel fulfilled and to become whole as the transformed prince born to rule.
In most of the standard illustrations of Beauty and the Beast, Beauty is described depicted as compassionate, kind, and considerate. It is through her great compassion and her self-denial that she assumes heroic proportions. The key image in most of the versions reveals Beauty, full of pity, leaning over some enormous furry creature or cuddling a freakish monster. What is interesting in all these illustrations is that they also bring out what boys are socialized to expect from young women: total abandonment, nurturing, mercy, obedience, responsibility. No matter what the male/beast is portrayed to resemble - and the imaginations of artist have drawn great pleasure in conceiving the most outlandish creatures imaginable – the female is supposed to curb her disgust and learn to love the beast for his dignity and power. Or she is supposed to learn to love her chains and bonds. The illustrations in most books generally underlined the thesis that the male is a beast despite his noble sentiments and can change with a submissive and tender wife. Males are not supposed to find the tenderness and compassion within themselves, they obtain such sustenance through emotional blackmail and manipulation.
That boys were to be treated differently than girls is apparent from the structure and contents of Madame de Beaumont’s book, or in other words, Beauty and the Beast originated as a sex-specific tale intended to inculcate a sense of good manners in little girls. In effect, the code of the tale was to delude young women into believing that they would be realizing their goals in life by denying themselves.
— Jack Zipes - “The Origins of the Fairy Tale or, How Script Was Used to Tame the Beast in Us” (1994)