Beauty and the Beast is a love story. It begins with a poor merchant father who has three daughters, beautiful sweet natured Belle, and two other daughters who are selfish and demanding ( and whom are the reason the merchant is poor, because he cannot say no to them.) When the father has to leave his daughters he asks what they would like brought back from the trip. The selfish daughters demand silks, money, jewellery etc but Belle asks only for a Rose.
The merchant ends the trip lost in a wood, staved, frozen and helpless. He stumbles upon a castle where he finds clothes, food and a bed all waiting for him. He recovers and leaves without meeting his benefactor. As he walks through the rose garden he remembers Belle's wish and plucks a rose. He is attacked by a beast, who turns out to be his benefactor. The Beast is so angry he would have killed him had the merchant not explained that he was not taking the rose for himself.
The Beast demands that the merchant send him Belle to make amends for her father's crime. When he returns home he is tempted to ignore his duty and not tell Belle. Eventually Belle is told the truth and goes willingly to the Beast.
At first she is repulsed by the beast but gradually she gets to know and tame him. But time is running out. When the rose her father plucked finally dies so will the Beast. Belle's father becomes ill and she begs to return and nurse him, promising to return after he has recovered. The Beast lets her go but the merchants recovery takes longer than expected and Belle returns to a wounded and angry Beast who has been attacked by villagers. The rose has almost died. In some versions the Beast dies and Belle's tears break the curse turning him back to a handsome prince, in others she realises her love and kisses him, which heals him and breaks the curse. They both live happily ever after.
As with many fairy tales, the provenance of the story is very varied. The earliest recorded version was by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve and was published in 1740, however, a later version by Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont in 1756 is probably the best-known and forms the basis for the majority of adaptations, including the 1991 Disney movie.