What Cinderella Was Really Going For by Tanna Bowen

What a STUDent by Zachary Ewoniuk


What Cinderella Was Really Going For by Tanna Bowen

Looking back on where my ideas of romance bloomed, it must have been my obsession with the Disney movies of my time. Particularly, Disney’s Cinderella. Don’t mistake the intent of this excerpt. I’m not placing blame on anyone for my lack of preparation in marriage. This is also not a bash on Disney. However, many of the ideals that a child would literally interpret from Cinderella can lead to a lot of disappointment later in life. To that end, I am not going to shield my own son or daughter from watching the film, but I will attempt to help them find the hidden meanings in the story. After all, there are many literary critical theories at my disposal, and so interpretation of the story can be suited to a more practical perspective.

First off, my children need to understand Cinderella’s main motive in the story. When I was a child, I assumed her motive was to fall in love and get married. While marriage in itself is not a damaging goal, I would like to give my children some idea of what their priorities should be. Looking to marriage to solve all of your woes is a fool’s dream.

In the opening scene, Cinderella looks out of her window and sees the kingdom’s palace off in the distance. Cinderella’s main motive is not to get married, but to live in the palace. She does not have her own home, and a stepmother with more experience and authority has made it a goal to abuse Cinderella
as long as she stays in the Chateau. From that experience, Cinderella would know that there is a place where no one could treat her like a pariah: the palace. Princesses don’t have to scrub the floors, and they’re treated with more respect.

Granted, in Cinderella’s time she could only go so far with her expectations. Women still had limited rights. As princess she would certainly be expected to produce heirs. Recognizing reality and not being hindered by it is crucial. The best way for Cinderella to thrive in the palace environment would be to develop a sense of patience and congeniality. Cinderella’s jovial nature is not just her natural charm, but the result of careful thought. Not only would a disarming personality charm a prince, but it would also put the stepmother off of her guard. Cinderella would be perceived as an airhead, and therefore less threatening.  There are several fantasy elements to take into account that give Cinderella an inordinate amount of luck through the story. That luck needs to be used to its best advantage. The first lucky break is that the king has no qualms about his future daughter-in-law’s nobility. He just wants a healthy
female to anchor the prince to the palace. The second stroke of luck would be Cinderella’s ability to talk to the animals she lives with and gain their loyalty. While the stepmother protects her daughters’ future by keeping Cinderella busy, the mice and birds living in the house create a dress that is suitable to admit Cinderella to the ball. Later on in the story, the animals free Cinderella from her locked room when the Grand Duke visits the Chateau. Cinderella did not discount creatures that are usually ignored or even despised. She turned them into an asset.

The tragic portions of the story are excellent teaching opportunities for me as a parent. For example, Cinderella twice underestimated the stepmother’s ruthlessness, and she also lacked focus. She allowed herself to be overly distracted by her happy feelings. Cinderella is mauled by her stepsisters when she
shows off her animal-made gown. When opportunity comes again, she’s caught off guard and imprisoned in her own room. The final element of fantasy in the story is of course the Fairy Godmother. This benevolent entity gives Cinderella the tools she needs to meet her goal of living in the palace. I’m not only referring to the head-to-toe (or glass slipper) look and pumpkin carriage. I am referring to the advice and resolve that is instilled in Cinderella to wake her up and grasp the seriousness of the situation. Nothing concentrates the mind like a deadline. Cinderella is given until midnight to secure her future.

Cinderella had a big challenge to face at the ball. Stepmother’s are one thing, the opposite sex another. She learns a hard lesson that every adolescent learns eventually: sex is bewitching. Cinderella heads straight for the red carpet to present herself to the prince, when out of nowhere a handsome smile and a flattering bow makes her forget all about her mission. The fact that it was actually the prince that seduced Cinderella is beside the point. She had no clue that it was him, and it was a third stroke of luck that the prince had the power and resources to find her after she thought she had failed. I am going to make sure that my children know how to identify the feeling of infatuation, and the feeling of love. It
helps to love the person you’re married to, but infatuation only ruins relationships. It creates a false idea of what your life will be like together. The happily ever after comes with practicality and patience, not with sex drive. I don’t want my children to miss out on the joys of romance, however. The dancing scene in Cinderella may give off the wrong impression of what love is, but there are few things more romantic than dancing. The feeling of romance are meant to be enjoyed, just
not allowed to take over good judgment. I have had to learn the hard way that romance only takes a person so far on the road to happiness. I hope to give my own children a little more preparation and a healthier perspective on some of the fables that our society places importance on. The dreams that Cinderella wished came true, but not because she was swept through her own story by fate.