By PD Martin
Here’s the thing…this week I found myself getting into the hype surrounding the wedding, the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton (unlike Cordelia’s post yesterday, I am going there!). There…I’ve said it. I have publicly confessed! But why was I suddenly so intrigued in the few days before the wedding? What is it about this ‘story’ that captures our attention?
At this stage, I’d like to point out that although I’m an Aussie and therefore officially part of the Commonwealth, I would prefer it if Australia was a republic. In other words, I’m definitely NOT a monarchist. I also do NOT have a fascination with the royals. In fact, I really don’t care what they do and don’t do in their daily lives. I certainly never read the tabloids, nor am I into royal fashion. And while I’m not a tom-boy, I’m certainly no girly-girl either. So I was only vaguely interested in what the dress might look like. Despite all this, somehow the story of the ‘commoner’ Kate Middleton marrying a prince…well, it was making my heart flutter! Yup, there’s the second confession of this blog. I was totally into the hype and my heart was fluttering before the wedding even started.
Despite these confessions, in NO way do I take responsibility for what I was feeling. Instead, I blame my daughter. It’s because of her that I was swept up in the romanticism of an average girl marrying a prince. My daughter may only be four, but she’s got a lot to answer for!
About six months ago, I first read her the tale of Cinderella. As a woman today, this fairytale (and many others) does unsettle me a little. Will my daughter be waiting for a man to sweep her off her feet or rescue her like the fairytales? I know chivalry isn’t dead, but it is on the decline. And the idea of a man falling in love with a woman he dances with for a couple of hours and then marrying her as soon as he finds her? Mmm…I guess that’s why they call it a fairytale. Don’t get me wrong, I am an optimist and my husband and I met, fell in love, and got married very quickly, so I know it’s possible to feel like it was meant to be, like it was out of a fairy tale. But still…Cinderella? One night?
Anyway, just about every night for the past six months Grace has pleaded for Cinderella as her bedtime story. See…it’s not my fault I was intrigued by the wedding! The Cinderella story has been rammed into my brain just about every night for the past six months. Who wouldn’t succumb? And that’s what I told myself when I switched on the TV at 7.30pm Aussie time and watched the wedding.
Cinderella is a powerful story – and I think that’s the other reason I got caught up in the wedding mania this week. It’s weathered the storm of time (don’t you just love that expression) and it’s had many new twists.
According to Wikipedia (all hail Wikipedia!) the roots of Cinderella may be in 1BC, and in the story of a girl called Rhodopis who lived in Ancient Egypt. In that story, an eagle snatched one of Rhodopis’s sandals and carried it to Memphis, dropping it on the King. The King was so taken by the sandal and the fact that it had been delivered by an eagle, that he ordered the girl to be found and brought to Memphis to become his wife. Yup, that sounds like Cinderella, doesn’t it? We have the shoe.
There’s also a version that’s been found from 860(AD) China. It’s called Ye Xien, and in that story a young woman befriends a magical fish that is the reincarnation of her mother, who was murdered by her stepmother. She loses a slipper after leaving a festival and guess who finds it? The king, of course! He falls in love and I think you know the rest. So now we have the wicked stepmother. And is the fish effectively the girl’s fairy godmother?
There are also aspects of the Cinderella story in Arabian Nights, and in the story of Cordelia from pre-Roman Britain (around 55BC). Both of these tales feature jealous siblings. A more recent similarity can be found in the 1634 tale of Cenerentola. This story had a wicked stepmother and stepsisters (plus the slipper and the King searching for its owner). So now we have the stepsisters.
And it was in 1697 that the Frenchman Charles Perrault added in the pumpkin, fairy godmother and the glass slippers.
If this Cinderella history has you intrigued, check it out on Wikipedia (even if it’s purely to justify why you watched the royal wedding).
There have also been many modern day twists on the Cinderella fairy tale. There are far too many to list here, but a few come to mind. Pretty Woman was deconstructed by many as a modern Cinderella story (even though many elements were missing). And then there was Ever After (starring Drew Barrymore) and Happily N’Ever After (a retelling of the story from the point of view of one of the royal servants who’s in love with Cinderella).
And in terms of the power of the Cinderella story, we also have the theory that the Cinderella tale is one of the ‘base’ plot lines, a story arc that many modern books and movies follow in some way.
So what does all this mean? Simply this: If you watched the royal wedding, rest assured it wasn’t your fault – you were wooed by the historic power of the Cinderella fairytale. We’re all excused.
And yes, the kiss was short but at least there were two of them. I clapped excitedly both times (confession number three), just like my four year old. Did you?