The Glass Slipper I
February 16, 2011
I often hear people say “life is not a fairy tale,” and it always makes me wonder what they mean exactly. I suppose they are inferring that everyday life is not all singing birds, fuzzy feelings and la di da perfect. But then, neither are fairy tales. Granted, characters occasionally break out into song and talk to animals, but in essence, fairy tales are just fables or tales that when paid attention to, deal with characters facing adversity, just as we do.
Since I was a kid till now, I’ve had some of the same conversations with people who have told me that I’m idealistic. When I tell people I believe in dreams coming true and that fairy tales are not too far off from life in terms of what we should expect, they say I’m naïve and tell me that one day I’ll grow up to the harsh realities of the world. Well, I am grown up, yet I still think the same way because it is truth. Truth does not exist within the confines of time, it is constant, which allows one the choice to believe it or not.
So here’s the truth and what I believe as told through the deconstruction of a fairy tale: Cinderella.
In the final scenes of Cinderella, she ends up with her ideal guy, living in the ideal situation and place. Basically, she gets what she believed in and hoped for. The point of Cinderella is not to have little girls spending their time dreaming about fluffy ideas, big puffy white dresses, balls (our version of a huge party), hoping to go from having nothing to having everything or about having a marriage or a guy that comes in sweeps you off your feet and saves you. The story is about how to preserve innocence and hope all while being in the line of palpable darkness. Cinderella was not rescued by a prince; she was her own knight in shining armor. The prince and that whole castle thing, well, that was just a manifestation of things she had already projected from the very beginning of the story. In essence, Cinderella’s happy ending was a vision, a belief saturated with imagination; it was the crux of her heart flipped inside out.
The first Cinderella story was written in China by Tuan Ch’eng-Shih and dates back from the Tang Dynasty in 860 AD. The second most recent version of this story named, ‘La Gatta Cenerentole,’ was written in 1634 by Giambattista Basil. However, the story that made Cinderella a household name was by the French author Charles Perrault in 1697. The most popular to follow was the 1950’s Disney Version which a majority tend to be familiar with.
For those who don’t know the story of Cinderella, here’s a quick summary. Once upon a time, there lived a girl whose father married a widow with two daughters. Upon her father’s untimely death, Cinderella’s step-mother, who was never quite fond of her, moves Cinderella to live in a separate part of the house and forces her to do house labor. Throughout the story, Cinderella is faced with the cruelty of her step-mother and step-sisters and the pangs of injustice. Yet despite the brutality of her situation and through it all, Cinderella is able to maintain her good nature and in the end, get her happy ending.
In the Disney version of this story, Cinderella wakes up singing “A Dream is a Wish your Heart Makes.” If you listen to the lyrics, it is clear that from the very beginning of the film, Cinderella has a deep connection and vision of what she wants her life to be.