Cinderella made me do it

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?

15 thoughts on “Cinderella made me do it

  1. PD Martin

    Hi all,
    I'm afraid I had trouble posting this today, so sorry it's late. I must have mucked up the "scheduling" feature. Hope you enjoy it even though it's late πŸ™‚
    Phillipa

    Reply
  2. Pari Noskin Taichert

    P.D.,
    Nope. I didn't get into it AT ALL! I think if Prince William had been more handsome (I'm sorry but Harry has the rakishness that I prefer and he doesn't have that sort of equine cast to his face), I might be singing a different tune right now.

    I too have thought a lot about Cinderella. I think the fairy tale and our so wanting it to be true have done a number on a lot of otherwise independently-minded women. That's one reason I really enjoyed Disney's "Enchanted." I saw it with my daughters and we all loved that it poked fun at some of the real inconsistencies –at least — in the Disney version of its predecessor.

    Reply
  3. Fran

    I didn't watch this one, but I understand it. I stayed up and watched Diana and Charles, and I think there needs to be one fairy tale wedding in every generation. It gives us hope, even when we know it won't ever apply to us.

    And I got a bit of a giggle too. A friend of mine designed costumes for the soap opera "Another World", and his wedding gown for Vicky, he maintains is the inspiration for Kate's dress. Who knows, he may even be right!

    So I'm glad you and your daughter indulged. Nothing to apologize for!

    Reply
  4. Catherine

    I got pulled into it too. I resisted all week. Mostly because the breathless analysis of minor things reached saturation point via all media formats I frequent. Then as the time drew nearer I succumbed. My daughter was out doing something techie with sound mixing from a recording session with her band. So not sitting at home with Mum watching. Just me and the dog.

    I found myself watching I think because I reacted in much the same fashion 30 years ago mostly repelled but still watching …anyway this was one of the key factors in my watching the other night. Seeing how I felt about the 'spectacle' these days. I thought it interesting how now, so much focus went to being real, or at least whatever real is when this much attention is given to a group of people. A lot of it seemed to turn away from the projected fairy tale aspects of 30 years ago.

    I think if Charles and Diana are included in the story arc I think the fairy tale aspects are more in tune with the more bleak, less disney versions of fairy tales. I feel for anyone embarking on combining two lives and families. It's not a fairy tale. It's hard work. I'd hate to think how much harder managing media makes it.

    Reply
  5. Alexandra Sokoloff

    I watched the recap on the evening news, but only to see what Harry would do.

    Hmm. I think I may have isolated one of my core issues.

    Awesome history of Cinderella, PD, I never knew any of that!

    Reply
  6. Laura

    I'm also Australian, and got totally sucked in. Myself and the other girls at work wore tiaras on Friday (any excuse right?!) and I watched it at home with my mum and a bottle of bubbly (at times the commentry was so boring we had it on mute and were playing Elton John – still gutted he didn't sing. (Hopefully he did at the reception!)
    But I agree with you. I blame not just Cinderella but Disney in general.
    Laura πŸ™‚

    Reply
  7. Cornelia Read

    Ah, daughters named Grace–they have much to answer for! I have one too.

    But sadly, I'm only Cordelia when I have a cold. I wish it were actually my name, then I could have gotten out of being called Corny as a child… Cordy would have been wonderful, by comparison.

    Reply
  8. David Corbett

    There was a royal wedding this weekend? I was too busy scrutinizing the long form birth certificate.

    (I'll bet Donald Trump is HONORED to have been responsible for bringing the royal couple together.)

    Reply
  9. Reine

    I'm a Harry watcher. OK, I'm not. But if I were a watcher, he'd be the one I'd be watching. I did watch, though. I had to see the hats. And the wicked stepsisters. Or whatever they are. Now I have to go watch the Bin Laden news.

    Reply
  10. Catherine

    Yeah Reine I just had a strange blend of conversation with my eldest daughter that started with the Bin Laden news and finding out that she had three pipe bands below her window as a Labour Day march started this morning and dissecting the hats that the cousins wore to the wedding. Stranger than usual day.

    Reply
  11. PD Martin

    Maybe it was more popular in Australia than the US? Interesting to see everyone's comments! Sounds like Laura got into it the most πŸ™‚

    Yes, Grace's do have a lot to answer for. And so sorry for the typo, CorNelia! Yes, Cordy does have a better ring to it than Corny.

    Lots happening this weekend…long-form birth certificate, wedding and now Bin Laden.

    Reply
  12. Reine

    I don't see any reason why we couldn't call Cornelia, Cordy. But then would we all sound like we had colds?

    Reply
  13. PK the Bookeemonster

    I watched the wedding. Do I wish upon us a monarchy? No. But it's nice to see two people in love get married and this level of spectacle doesn't happen that often.

    Reply

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