abc family is currently having a “cinderella sunday” and they’re showing “a cinderella story” and “another cinderella story.” it makes on wonder about the longevity of such a story. i mean, really, how many stories follow the same plot line? so many cultures have an original cinderella type story. the oldest known version dates back to 1st century BC greco-egyptian girl rhodopis, though many claim even she had her roots with the 6th author aesop. since then she’s appeared as a fish-befriending servant in both chinese and philippian stories, had several variations in Scheherazade’s arabian nights, and appeared in stories in japan, korea and several european countries. the fairy-godmother, pumpkin, etc that we so love today evolved from the french tale, an adaptation of the earliest european example coming out of italy.
so this means the story has been being reborn over and over for 22-27 centuries. they say that there ARE no original stories left, that all stories are just retellings, combinations, adaptations, etc. but with the cinderella story there is no masking. cinderella stories are clearly cinderella stories. from books to movies to songs to about every culturally artistic medium, the general story of an oppressed girl making the most of her situation and making good in the end has survived cultural barriers and generational barriers to become one of the most well-known story archetypes of all times.
so what is it that makes this story so appealing? even in a culture and time when young girls are cautioned about the dangers of believing in fairy tales and the impossibilities of prince charmings and “happy ever after”, the general themes behind the story remain attractive to just about anyone with a heartbeat.
i have a confession. i can be a rather cynical person sometimes. case and point? I can be pretty snarky about the plethora of “christian” self-help books available (though not as much as some are). one of the common themes in a lot of women’s topics is the idea that we’re all princesses, daughters of a king, and waiting for our true prince in the form of Jesus.
i wonder if one of the reasons that we cling to the promises of cinderella’s story, though, isn’t our internal need to feel like we do belong to something great, that we are destined for something great, and somehow this… this life… that we’re in now is just a waiting period. a time when we’re slaves to our bodies and the distractions of this world. but that leads to emptiness and dispare because it’s not who we were created to be. and we can have our “ball moments” of happiness, where life seems to go our way and we’re the “belle of the ball” but the glass slipper will always fall and we’ll always be waiting for our next ball until we’ve finally reached the presence of our father and our prince.
but one of the characteristics that i love about a lot of the cinderella stories is cinderella’s overall demeanor and the fact that the character always seems to have a few down-and-out true blue friends to rely upon during the best and worst of times.
which, i think, says a lot about how we should be as we’re going through this life we weren’t made for. to have such a obedient servant’s nature and to cling to community as the support to get through the day; to be the oppressed, but never the depressed one in the story; to be the strong character, not the complainer; to remain optimistic when surrounded by pessimistic people, especially those who complain when they’re the ones who have the least to complain about.
maybe, it’s not such a bad thing to encourage children to emulate such an attitude: perseverance in oppression; remaining positive in negative situations; and finding joy and hope in seemingly hopeless situations? I don’t think cinderella is really the negative role model women’s lib. has tried to create her to be.
and i can definitely see why the story has had such staying power for so long.