Cinderella #272: An Interpretation by Bruno Bettelheim
Marguerite Di Angeli
Once upon a time, there lived a man who studied fairy tales. He wrote many books, and one of them was called The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales. Here is what he has to say about Cinderella: "Most children are delighted to act out Cinderella in dramatic form, but only after the fairy tale has become part of their imaginary world, including especially, its happy ending to the situation of intense sibling rivalry...(p.55). He also said,"In many other Cinderella stories, the helpful animal also nourishes the heroine. For instance, in an Egyptian Cinderella, a stepmother and stepsisters mistreat two children, who beg, "O cow, be kind to us, as our mother was kind to us." And finally: " The stories where the stepmother kills the helpful animal but does not succeed in depriving Cinderella of what gives her inner strength indicate that for our managing or coping with life, what exists in reality is less important than what goes on in our mind. What makes life bearable, even in the worst circumstances, is the image of the good mother which we have internalized, so the the disappearance of the external symbol does not matter." (p. 258)
From: Bettelheim, B. The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales. (1977) New York: Alfred A. Knopff
Notes: Who is your internalized "good mother"? Is it Mother Mary? Mother Goose? Perhaps Berehinia, "protector of women"? Mine is Mrs. Santa Claus!