If you look at a painting of the devil from the middle ages he is absolutely ghastly. He has the body of a beast, the wings of a bat and the head of the ugliest dog you’ve ever seen. This coincides with the beliefs of the time. During this period it was common belief that physical beauty was a blessing from God. Your beautiful appearance was God’s gift for having an equally beautiful personality. If you take a look at Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, his characters’ physical appearances are manifestations of either their pure and noble intentions, or their twisted and corrupt ways. Handsome, perfect Knight for the former, and collector with boils on his face for the latter.
Today, we seem to know better. In our society, extremely attractive people are screened and scrutinized more closely than us average people. Our films portray those heavenly faces as beguiling monsters. Even in the innocent teeny bopper films. You know the scenario: Teenage boy loves popular, gorgeous girl. Another girl, “slightly less attractive, but pretty nonetheless” is in love with teenage boy. Lo and behold, the first gorgeous girl is evil in some way and BOOM the the “slightly less attractive but pretty nonetheless” girl wins the heart of our young hero. Today, we say THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA. Meaning, the devil is one stylish being. And our films, portraits, and rumors make today’s depiction of the devil completely different to that of the 1300’s. Our devil is sexy, and we feel he/she’s got to be just to tempt us so well.
Isn’t that something?
Granted, today we still believe that somewhere deep down the devil IS this horrendous creature. But that doesn’t stop us from producing films like Bedazzled, The Devil’s Advocate or The Ninth Gate, all of which portray the devil as strikingly attractive.
It boils down to something very simple. In the Middle Ages looks were not as important as they are today. I don’t mean they didn’t judge one another, but the idea that looks could get you somewhere is a more modern idea. Since we have created this media filled society in which there’s a pretty face on every screen, board or cover. We have made beauty a currency. And if your face is money, and money is the root of all evil…well, simple logic has given this generation a misconstrued perception that beauty = evil.
Truth be told, we all know those people who have realized that they only need their good looks to get by and they don’t bother being good people. Continuing, we women may have all considered dating someone we thought was less attractive because we just knew they wouldn’t cheat. Men believe most gorgeous women are pretentious and money hungry. We all have been here for at least a moment.
That’s because we all know today’s truth: Beauty = Power.
A pretty face can open doors, hell, it can knock down walls. This is a power we continue to GIVE to normal people. The only problem is, most normal people abuse power. And so, with beauty we may apply the saying: how can you first make thieves and then punish them? We the society have done this to ourselves. We took the devil, gave him a dashing smile and a nice wardrobe and now we punish him for tempting us. Go figure.