The old man tells the young maiden that if she cuts off his head in three blows, she will be free from his lonely castle. Since this story was in the Beauty and the Beast category, I thought that maybe under the skin of the old man there would be a young prince.
Big, big, disillusionment on my part.
When the queen cuts off his head "The old man's head rolled away on the floor. But behold! Instead of blood, a key fell from the head. It opened all the chests and doors in the entire castle. There the princess found many, many precious things, and she was rich and free forever."
There is no learning to love a Beast; Beauty's kindness and virtue and fidelity do not shine through. In fact, this character of the youngest daughter is not the heroine who gives herself up willingly to save her father and family.
So why is Beauty's father important? He not only "introduces" her to the Beast, albeit accidently, he is the reason she returns home to care for him when he is sick. The Beast can see Beauty's loyalty to her father, and her sadness at not taking care of her father causes him grief, therefore he allows her to visit home on the condition that she return to his care. In seeing her love for her father, the Beast comes to love Beauty, who in turn learns to love him. In most fairy tales the father figure is absent, and it is refreshing to have a tale where he plays a vital role.