Musings on Fiction and Tropes

Beauty and the Beast – from Disney to Buffy the Vampire Slayer – why we still love this trope.

Beauty and the beast

Beauty and the Beast was one of my favourite fairy tales when I was growing up. It then became one of my favourite retellings (Beauty, by Robin McKinley), and recently one of my most enjoyed live action fairy tale movies. But the story of the brave and beautiful heroine who soothes and transforms the beast into a prince is not just restricted to this tale. In fairy tales alone there are several – from East of the Sun, West of the Moon, to the Briar Rose story. Some of these tales are literal transformations from beasts and others are from ‘beast’ like humans.


What is Disney’s Tangled, after all, but a retelling of the Beauty and the Beast trope? Flynn Rider is the jaded, criminal ‘beast’ (a Han Solo-esque antihero), and Rapunzel the kind and positive and enthusiastic young woman who helps him have a change of heart. It’s possibly why I love it so much (that, and the horse is hilarious). Continue reading “Beauty and the Beast – from Disney to Buffy the Vampire Slayer – why we still love this trope.”

Musings on Fiction and Tropes

Why Fairy Tales are Important

Fairy tale fighting dragon

Fairy tales, and their modern counterparts, teach us more than unrealistic expectations about love and the chance of being hidden royalty. They teach us about courage and bravery, about the importance of using your wits, about dangers and evils and tragedy. They teach us that the monsters can be fought and dreams can be achieved.


“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

Neil Gaiman


Fairy tales keep alive the hope that there is such a thing as true love, and that it’s almost part of your destiny. In a world where the path to love is frequently bumpy or long, and loneliness is all too common, stories promising love as destiny, love as the Happy Ending, help us hang on to hope. Sure, they sometimes might set us up for unreal expectations too, but whats a little unreal expectation between friends! Continue reading “Why Fairy Tales are Important”

Musings on Fiction and Tropes

Why I still love a good old quest Fantasy

fantasy the ring

“I’m going on an adventure!” cried Bilbo, and we went with him.


Quest fantasy as a sub genre includes tales that have a basis in the old Greek epics, fairy tales, and the mythic hero’s journey. There is a quest, a journey to achieve or retrieve something. Books I particularly equate with this genre are the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series, and the Dragonlance Saga (particular favourites of mine growing up). The Arthurian myths also often have an element of quest fantasy, particularly those relating to the search for the Holy Grail.


The internal struggle of the character whilst undergoing the literal quest means that the character undergoes a quest for knowledge and self-betterment. The Wizard of Oz involves a literal journey for Dorothy to defeat the Wicked Witch of the West and return home to Kansas. Her internal journey is recognising that she was always strong enough and brave enough and kind enough to win over evil, and that ‘there is no place like home’. Continue reading “Why I still love a good old quest Fantasy”

Musings on Fiction and Tropes

Who wants to live forever?

child questioning immortality

My son has just started listening to Queen, and the other day I heard one of the songs they did for the soundtrack to Highlander: ‘Who wants to live forever’. Got me thinking. Would we really want to live forever? What would it do to us to live forever?

Okay for starters, there are quite a few people about whom I shudder at the thought of them living forever. I’m not just talking about the really evil people… .Does that make me a bad person? That does make me a bad person. Geoff from accounting is fine. Really.  But it’s a valid thought – If we lived forever, would we want to be around the same people forever? Would they start to really bore us? In fantasy fiction you often have elves or other immortals who have all lived for well over 1000 years and they all know each other. You’d surely get super tired of the same stories, again and again: Continue reading “Who wants to live forever?”

Musings on Fiction and Tropes

The Monster under the Bed – Why do people like scaring themselves?

I’m going to get this out of the way at the start – I hate scary movies. To be more accurate – I’ve tried to like scary movies but I’m the kind of person who screams at jump scares, and creepy stuff leaves me awake and alert and catastrophising all night. 


The first horror movie I saw was House. I was 11, at a friend’s house, and she’d assured me it was a comedy horror. Now I think back and I can see some of the comedy, but at the time it was deeply traumatising. It took a long while for me to be able to open my wardrobe door at night. Or even during the day… I made my little sister do it – in the classic ‘little siblings are indestructible” way that older siblings have. Scream (another light horror) was the nail in the coffin (so to speak) of me ever wanting to live in an isolated house out in the country. I like having neighbours I can run to when the scary baddies arrive. And the bit at the beginning of Scream where Drew Barrymore’s character is trying to call out to her parents, who are so close to being able to save her, and her voice doesn’t work? Oh that’s only my recurring nightmare. I really wanted to watch Supernatural recently but made the mistake of watching the first one while I was at home alone and decided maybe I need to wait until my kids are at home with me (they somehow take on the indestructibility of siblings; when they are in their rooms asleep I feel a whole lot braver than if it is just me by myself). Continue reading “The Monster under the Bed – Why do people like scaring themselves?”