Again our fairytale is not one of pure delight and charm, rather it is one of deception and selfishness. We know the story of Cinderella, her fairy godmother, vegetables and animals turned into means of transportation, a lost glass slipper and a handsome prince. Of course when the clock strikes midnight the fantasy disappears and poor Cinderella is left facing a reality of ugly step sisters, a wicked step mother and a life without a handsome prince. That is until the glass slipper is found and a search for its true owner declared.
The origins of Cinderella, like so may fairytales, can be traced back centuries, with some suggesting the oral stories told in early Greece and Egypt, and then later in Chinese culture are the earliest versions of the story. However, the tale we know as Cinderella, like Sleeping Beauty, was first published by Italian author Giambattista Basile. Later versions by Charles Perrault and The Brothers Grimm are more commonly known and tell of a lonely, mistreated girl who is longing to have a better life.
Basile’s version of the story the daughter of a prince is manipulated by her governess into helping her to marry the prince and become her stepmother. Once the governess is married to the prince, she brings into the family her six daughters. They in turn treat the young girl with disrespect and send her into the kitchen as a servant.
One day, the prince travels away from his home and along his journey meets a fairy. The fairy gifts him some items, one of which is a date seedling. He takes these gifts home and gives them all to his daughter. She tends to the date seedling and it grows; unbeknown to the girl there is a fairy living in the date tree.
The local king throws a ball and the fairy in the date tree dresses the young girl so she can attend the ball. Right about now It’s all sounding very familiar to the story we know. However, let’s remember that the young girl hasn’t longed for or asked to attend a ball. The fairy has simply woven her magic without request and the young girl is now well and truly in the king’s love bubble when she attends the ball.
The young girl runs away before the king can find out who she is and on her third escape attempt loses a slipper to the king’s servants. The king is desperate to find the owner of the slipper and asks all the young women to try it on. When it is within a short distance of its original owner, the shoe flies out of the kings hands and onto the foot of the young girl. There’s no hiding now and with that, the king marries her.
This version of Cinderella portrays a young, trusting girl who succumbs to the manipulation of others. In a post earlier this month we explored The Fairy Ointment and the notion of situational awareness. Cinderella is a good example of how situational awareness can have a flow on impact where other people pay the price for poor judgement.
Let’s start at the end and work backwards. The poor young girl is married off to a besotted king without reciprocated love. A fairy she didn’t know about magically put shoes on the girls feet, shoes she didn’t ask for. A young girl grows a date tree from a seedling and tends to it lovingly. A father accepted gifts from a fairy he met on his travels. A fairy set out to deceive a father and hide in gifts. A governess manipulates her ward to secure a future for herself and her six daughters. A governess accepts a job looking after a young girl but doesn’t disclose she has six children of her own. A man is left alone after his wife dies.
And there we have it – emotion. The lesson in this story is how emotion can influence our judgement and blur our awareness of what’s happening around us. Emotions can lead us to make rash decisions, or ignore valuable information, perhaps even through denial or unacceptance that the information even exists to us. Hypothetically, if the young girl’s mother had not died, the story of Cinderella (no matter who has written it) would not exist. The story needed an emotive layer to work and there are many from loneliness, jealousy, fear, love, heartbreak.
Cinderella is a reminder of the need to be in tune with our emotions, our mental state, our feelings when we’re making decisions.