“Cinderella” and Literary Theory

Is there more to the fairy tale “Cinderella” than at first meets the eye?  Could it represent something deeper than a girl’s universal quest to find love and her soul mate?  Some of my Grade 12 University students think so.

It was presentation day today in my senior English class on what could questionably be a dull topic: literary theory; however, it was anything but boring.  One of the groups who were presenting on Marxist Literary Theory, which is, in a nutshell, about seeing literature (and art) through the lens of Marxist ideology, notably the differences between the classes.

According to the students, here is the story’s breakdown when viewed through this lens:

The prince:  the upper class (bourgeoise)

The stepsisters: the working class

Cinderella: the working class

The Fairy Godmother: upper mobility

The stepsisters suffered from self-hate, so they turned on the other member of their class in their efforts to be part of the upper class.  Cinderella, through her beauty (personal qualities and I might add, hard work) is able to move up in society through her fairy godmother and land the prince, thus becoming part of the upper class.  Even the evil step-sisters become nice to her in the end because they celebrate her marriage (and position).

Kind of cool to look at something so traditional such as a fairy tale in a new light.

Fairy tales are under appreciated.  I love them.

Comments

  1. Kristen MaierNo Gravatar says:

    It’s interesting also to look with your students at fairy tales through the lens of looking for aspects of racism or sexism. What kinds of characters are white, black, other races? Overweight, attractive? Female, male?
    I really like your 12th graders take on it. Very cool!

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