Last Cinderella post for now

09Feb10

. . . and only because of the comments!

Bound-cover image from Amazon.com

Certainly, on the surface this is a story of sibling rivalry, of a child feeling that her (step) mother loves her siblings more than her, and of sibling rivalry set right. Bettelheim, in The Uses of Enchantment, says it is a story “. . . of wishes coming true, of the humble being elevated, of true merit being recognized even when hidden in rags, of virtue rewarded and evil punished—a straightforward story. But under this overt content is concealed a welter of complex and largely unconscious material, which details of the story allude to just enough to set our unconscious associations going.” He attributes the appeal of Cinderella to the contrast between the surface simplicity and the underlying richness of the story.

Think about Cinderella in the context of a 5 year-old, coming out of the oedipal conflict and struggling with a need for her parents’ love and the conviction that, because she gets angry and frustrated with them that she is somehow flawed and doesn’t deserve that love. And perhaps her parents love her siblings more because they aren’t harboring those evil thoughts, because they aren’t, in some profound way, flawed. She was noble in the past, but is now an ash-girl. Certainly, she’s treated that way by her (step) mother and (step) siblings. One can also think about the story in terms of an adolescent, with that overlay of sexuality, and I think this points up some of the oedipal and developmental metaphors hidden under the surface of this rich tale.

Donna Napoli’s Bound is a beautiful retelling of the Tuan Ch’eng-Shih version of the Cinderella story.

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