Another favourite story in our home has been Cinderella. My childhood recollection of the older story book version doesn’t differ too much from the Disney one my kids are more familiar with (though they did have lots of bedtime stories from ‘proper’ fairy tale books as well but hey, Disney’s okay too as is the occasional video!). As a child, I never understood why Cinderella’s father left her to the mercy of the wicked stepmother and sisters. Not sure I’m any the wiser now, though I’m sure tomes have been written on the symbolism of Cinderella. Of course the most significant character has to be the fairy godmother who rescues Cinderella from her plight by magically transporting her into a realm where her real beauty can shine and where she can attract the attentions of Prince Charming (in other words pursue her dreams). My research has not been extensive here but I would like to offer a few thoughts.
- Part of maturation involves the breaking free from outer dependencies, for instance the father-daughter (and mother/son etc.,) relationship must alter over time so that we eventually learn to stand on our own two feet. Perhaps this is the symbolism of the father ‘leaving’ Cinderella to the mercies of the world – the women who despise and abuse her (and in the case of men, other men perhaps?).
- The fairy godmother personifies the inner potential for freedom of expression, creativity, self-nurturance and dream fulfillment that is in all of us but may (often) be suppressed by for example internalised notions of who and what we should be, or indeed by actively oppressive relations, friends, acquaintances and colleagues.
The fairy godmother contains archetypal qualities – protectiveness, inspiration, magic, all of which symbolise the creative potential in all humans. Finding the key to unlock her door is a secret every person should have access to and the upsurge in written material from humanistic therapists, healers and gurus might mean a burgeoning availability of these kinds of insights for humanity. (Check out Jean Raffa’s blog here at wordpress and the writings of Debbie Ford). Here’s hoping! In the meantime, here’s an interesting article from psychotherapist Adam Phillips, with particular relevance for women struggling with opposition and perhaps even jealousy from other women in their lives.
Reference for Cinderella and fairy godmother image at the start of this post:
From Childhood’s Favorites and Fairy Stories, by Various
Project Gutenberg etext 19993