In Defense of Cinderella
In Defense of Cinderella
Ever since the movie Cinderella was released in 1950, Walt Disney’s most iconic princess has been under fire. Being a member of the Classic Disney Princess trio, many question if Cinderella has anything significant to teach girls, claiming she’s just a weak-minded damsel pining after a prince. To be honest, I used to be one of those people. For a long time, Cinderella was my second least favorite princess; I always saw her as just some silly girl wishing for her prince to come take her away from her retched life, and I always questioned why she never tried to stand up to her step-family. But after seeing In to the Woods and the new live-action version (and even reading Cinder by Marissa Meyer), I began to think that maybe I had it wrong. Upon re-watching the original film, I finally realized that Cinderella is not at all what I, and others, had made her out to be.
To quote Kiera Cass (author of The Selection series), “Cinderella never asked for a prince. She asked for a night off and a dress.” This is one of the truest descriptions of Cinderella I have ever read! She is absolutely correct; where in the movie does Cinderella say that she wants to go to the ball to meet the prince? All this time, people have been assuming the wish her heart made was for her prince charming, but we couldn’t have been more wrong. Cinderella was forced to be a scullery maid in her own home, always having to watch as her step-family lived their lives of splendor. When she heard that every female in the entire kingdom was invited to the ball, of course she would want to go, she had a right to! Even before that, Cinderella just wanted to be free and to have the opportunity to be her own person. We never once see her pine away for a prince, because that’s not what she’s after.
The most important aspect of Cinderella is that she teaches us how to forgive. It’s not super obvious in the original animated version, but in the new live-action we are told that her mother always taught her to “have courage and be kind”. This can be taken a couple of different ways, but the ending suggests that her mother meant that sometimes you have to be brave enough to show kindness.
Let me explain: throughout every telling of Cinderella, she is always mistreated by her horrible step-family, but why doesn’t she ever do anything about it? How about because she has nowhere else to go or because they are the only family she has left? They may be unkind to her, but at least it’s familiar. Even though her step-family constantly puts her down, Cinderella still tries to see the good and never once sinks down to their level. She valiantly endures their cruelty and is never anything but kind to them, because she knows that becoming bitter won’t make her situation any easier. In the end, it would be easy to punish them for what they did, but Cinderella takes the harder path: she forgives them.
Forgiveness is something that most people take for granted, when really it’s one of the hardest things to do. You may easily respond to “I’m sorry” with “It’s okay”, but is it ever really that simple? Or what about when you hold on to your anger towards people until it eats you up inside? To truly forgive someone is to let the bad feelings go and allow the damage to heal. Cinderella shows us that we should be brave enough to forgive. Otherwise we might become bitter like the infamous Lady Tremaine.
Even though the way out for Cinderella was finding her prince, he isn’t what defines her. Unlike the other two classics – Snow White and Aurora – Cinderella doesn’t wait for someone else to fix her life. She bravely shows kindness to those who are cruel to her and she holds on to hope that things will get better if she just keeps trying. Above all else, Cinderella demonstrates that no matter what life throws at you, you never have to stop dreaming. It’s right in the song after all: “No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true.”
About The Author
Shannon McCarter of Nashville TN
I’m a lover of movies, TV, and books (especially books) and I love to talk about them! I am often seen reading and when I have headphones in I’m probably listening to a book. I post written spoiler free reviews of what I’ve been reading on my blog athttp://plantnerd96.tumblr.com/ and every Monday I discuss the books a little bit more in depth and try (fail) to contain my inner fangirl on my YouTube channel Still Waiting For My Satyr!