Guest Post By Abhijatya Dhar
This paper discusses the Hollywood film King Kong, the story of which deals with the proverbial Beauty and the Beast syndrome, reminding one of the fairy tale. In the film, the Beast fell in love with the Beauty, whereas the girl in question had doubts about her feelings. But, the Beast manages to win over the sympathy of the audience and the viewer wonders whether she would ever see beyond the surface, discovering what lies beneath his hideous appearance. Will she ever be able to overcome her fear of the beast, taking into consideration his feelings for her? Could she ever consider the possibility of loving such a creature? The pleasant news for the viewer was that she did. And the beast was no less in proving his love for her, though he was severely wounded, he protected his beloved till the end often escaping death narrowly. Well, it’s a story. Now, to imagine all this happening in the real world — is it possible that it would so happen in reality? After that of the fairy tale, the second beast in question is our very own, King Kong the epic gorilla. Many have seen the movie King Kong, though both deal with beasts the tale as well as the film, but in the latter the end of the beast was not as happy or pleasant as the one in the fairy tale. Certainly the film’s end seemed more realistic than the one in the story.
To quote Mike Tyson, “Show me a hero and I’ll write you a tragedy, in the real world, the beauty couldn’t change the beast and the beast ate her.” Does it imply all heroes meet with a tragic end? Is it tragedy that makes a hero? The plot does highlight certain latent issues: Why was the beast not acceptable to the people, to the society as he was? Why was he an outcast? He meant no harm to anybody, though keeping in mind today’s world, he was far more humane than most of the people living in the society, and why did he have to die at the hands of the only person he ever loved, the only one he ever cared for? His love for beauty became his weakness; and eventually she became the reason for his death. Was it because he was different that he was unacceptable? Why was it so necessary to kill him? Was it because he didn’t fit into the society of humans? Does love make one vulnerable or weak? Why is it that we fear something that we do not fully understand? The paper wishes to examine all these issues.
As the film progresses, viewers wonder about the purpose of existence allotted to the beast or the function he has to perform in the grand plot and what happens once that purpose if fulfilled? The beast is needed to protect the beauty, but when the job is done, what happens to the beast, what does he do, where does he go? The dilemma seems to be obvious, whether it is the cursed prince, as the beast saving a belle from a pack of wolves, or our beloved primate — KING KONG, saving the girl from dinosaurs. The beauty is needed to tame the beast and polish his corners and rough edges, turn an animal into a higher, civilised, socialised, more sophisticated being and to bring him peace. As soon as the beasts’ purpose is fulfilled, the beauty has to kill it, why? For the greater being to develop to elicit the pathos in the story, or to pronounce the clash between Nature–pure, raw, unadulterated and genuine and the concept of the human society-cultivated and civilised, set in its ways with its practiced norms, rules and regulations, its parameters as well as its taboos? So is the whole film a social commentary in the guise of a love story between two varieties of species?
Somewhere along, despite all odds, the viewer cannot help thinking couldn’t the beauty and the beasts have co-existed; or was there an impending need to annihilate it because of the kind of society man lives in, one that allows no deviation? The fact lies that he was no threat to the society or the people in it…..but only reacted to the threat posed to him by the society. In both stories there was beauty which managed to catch the beasts’ attention and appealed to his better nature. As the saying goes ‘If you need an angel, you need to provide a heaven; only devils can be bred in hell’ (From the film ‘Contantine’). What do all these characters and the traits they possess convey to the reader? What meaning do they hold? How is it that the beast achieves greatness only in death and tragedy? What is it that makes him a hero, the hardships he is made to face or the sacrifices he is needed to make? Why is there a need to protect the beauty in the first place? Why does the beast even come into existence? Why does beauty face a threat ever?
Examining these issues, while drawing a parallel to human society, is interesting. What does the beast signify? What role does the beauty play in the whole plot and its importance? What is the role of the beast and the importance of its existence in the plot? The nature of the beast is such that it will always stand between any potential danger and the beauty, he will love beauty, will protect her with his life, but eventually it will be the beauty that will bring about his death, he will still stand by her though every minute he’s hurt by her…he knows he’ll die….but never abandons her. The beast is selfless, knows no detachment, was instinctively not built for it…..he does not know what it is or how it is gained….and even if he manages to detach himself…he is still the one who loses…cause he has to kill the most beautiful part of himself to achieve it….he has to kill the part which separates him from all the other beings -the cold hearted people.
Beauty knows that it is just foolish of the beast, but the beast is pure heart, compared to him the beauty seems heartless to the audience and she takes the privilege to use his heart and his basic simple nature. The viewer suspects that she probably thinks of him as a fool and not a hero, who ends up becoming an easy target for everybody, the worst part being that the beauty is the one to make the final blow that rips his heart… this makes her the most cold blooded killer out of the lot…cause the beast placed her at a place of reverence in his heart and she cut it inside out.
The beast signifies the hard cold cover that we need to put on in our daily lives in order to protect ourselves from seeming vulnerable, and weak. It is a cover to protect the soft and more humane or emotional side of our being. The beast signifies the mask we all wear in our daily lives to save us from getting hurt…and also to conceal our true feelings….it is like the hard exoskeleton of a coconut protecting the softer endoskeleton. It helps in keeping the danger at bay, as it can successfully seem vicious and dangerous and can be called upon as per need, hence protects us from whoever might intend to harm us.The role of the beast is suggestive of apparent protection, ensuring survival, and might be the first line of defence in some cases whereas the last resort in some. But no man exists without this beast, as at some point or the other the beast automatically comes into existence depending upon the circumstance one is faced with. The beast is not there by birth, but is born through life experiences, fears, insecurities, pain, sorrow, for a man surrounded by such feelings, is also surrounded by a threat of extinction, and hence to protect oneself, the beast is born, in sheer self-defence. It is nothing but a way of survival. The importance of the beast is thus paramount. The absence of the beast can be equated with someone going to a battle, but not having arms to fight with. Any person who fails to recognise the need to call upon the beast within when required is just exposing himself to a long lasting trauma, which is sure to leave deep scars.
The beauty signifies the softer and more subtle side of life as love, compassion, empathy, warmth, and nurturance. It engulfs not just beauty of the exterior, but of the interior, it stands for purity, innocence, faith, belief. Her significance is that the effect water has on fire, is what the beauty has on the beast. She can even reach to the deepest and the darkest corner of the beasts’ heart and tame him. Beauty is the only one that can help the beast in achieving balance, in making him the greater being that he is destined to be, making him realise that being the beast is not always necessary, she is the one to polish off his rough edges and make him more sophisticated helping him to adapt and adjust in the human society, for the greater good of himself and the society. The beauty soothes the beast of his emotional pain as he is nothing but what rose from all the precipitated hurt and coagulated pain. As many of us must be aware of the phenomena of good girls being attracted to bad boys and how the bad boys eventually become good boys. That is the effect that the beauty plays on the beast. So many movie plots and novels have revolved around the same.
The transformation signifies the presence of a better being within all of us, the ability to let go of the masks we wear in our daily lives, to break through the walls built of lies and insecurities behind which we hide, it signifies the birth of a new man, it signifies the power that truth holds, and the way to unleash the better man is by accepting the truth about oneself, both good and bad and choosing to deliberately nurture the man with truth than to fuel the beast with false ego and pride. It signifies the victory of good over evil, of just over the corrupt.
It also recommends the importance of patience and the need to give people a chance to change, to develop character and to provide them with the means to do so but not by doing it for them but assisting them in the process, supporting them and accepting them unconditionally. Change comes over time and is not immediate, especially when it is in reference to man, hence patience may be the key to achieve this target.
To conclude, it can be said that the beast is nothing more but the result of everybody’s fear, which is directly equivalent of the fear that a baby develops within the first few months of his life, for example the fear of survival, fear of security and so on. The beast is merely a protective cover that we all depend on for our emotional security, for preventing us from getting hurt, during the process of getting hurt and till the time we get over it. It is nothing but the protective gear for our inner self, whose sole purpose is to protect and comfort our emotional health, and in case of any imbalance, to restore the balance as fast as possible by any means necessary.
The objective of this paper was to analyze and examine how important it is for the beast to be a part of our daily lives, but also the importance of keeping it under control and not to let it get the best of us. For this purpose, of achieving this desired equilibrium, that said control of the beast, the beauty exists in this world, which appeals to the better nature of that beast, where one can take off one’s mask and be oneself. The beauty is thus like the beast’s Achille’s heel, the only one that the beast would surrender to and follows blindly. The two lead characters hence stand for abstract virtues in any human being and the desired equilibrium the Indian texts also often talk of. The Beauty and the Beast is hence not just a fairy tale for the kids, but it is a part of our daily lives, a part we fail to recognise, a part that surfaces and becomes latent again without anyone even realising it. The beauty and the beast are two sides of the same coin, and it is about striking a balance. So if there’s a toss, one knows that if the coin is standing, one is lucky since being the beauty or the beast forever is not the way to live a content life, not in these times. Both exist in each one of us, and they surface on a daily basis taking turns as we live each day. The only secret is, the beast calls forth the beast and the beauty calls forth the beauty. Hence, in future, it will be prudent to give it a thought when facing difficult times, whether to call upon the beast or the beauty, as the same will be returned.
Interview. “Tyson’s Complicated World”. The Telegraph, UK, May 1 2002.
MA (Previous), Clinical Psychology
Amity University, Noida