*wherein Olivia will insert many pictures of various Cinderellas staring thoughtfully off into the middle distance*
I never really considered Cinderella to be one of my favorite princesses, so I've been a little surprised at my own enthusiasm for this Cinderella Week. It got me thinking, what is it about the story of Cinderella that so appeals to us? What is it about it that so appeals to me? So here I am to importune you further with farfetched, rambling philosophic conjectures, lovely pictures, and hopefully some fun :)
One thing I've realized that I love about the story of Cinderella (at least, in some of the versions) is how imaginative she is. She daydreams a lot, and she lets herself! She knows it doesn't keep her from faithfully and thoroughly performing her duties, so where's the harm? As someone who spends quite a lot of time inside my own head, I like that :D Isn't it fun to let your mind ponder the intricacies of Pauline and Mrs. Harris' relationship when you're washing the dishes, or sigh contentedly over some Rather Lovely hero? Though Cinderella's situation is often dismal, she keeps up her courage and cultivates her natural optimism through cherishing her dreams and imagining the possibility of, someday, a better life--whether that better life is to be attained through a visit to the palace, a kind friend, or a regaining of her home.
Cinderella is unquestionably a dreamer, and she knows it.
Cinderella is also a very hard worker. ("Thanks, Captain Obvious.") Though her life is unfair and her stepfamily cruel and demanding, she doesn't sit around moping, nor does she run away to escape their tyranny. She just quietly and confidently assumes the role unjustly foisted onto her for the good of others. I like how this point is made in both Ever After and '15 Cinderella: the girl is committed to sticking it out because she knows that's what her parents would have wanted. A new stepmother has control of her childhood home, the home she's grown up in, the home her parents loved--and she's not about to see it go to ruin.
Perhaps one of the reasons we love this story is because it has such a worthy heroine. Life certainly hasn't thrown her sunshine and daisies, and yet she remains humble, kind, and diligent.
The Cinderella story has such important, though overlooked, lessons. "Have faith in your dreams, and someday your rainbow will come smiling through." "Have courage and be kind; for where there is kindness, there is goodness, and where there is goodness, there is magic." And, to quote my mother, "Do not let your circumstances dictate who you are."
The tale illustrates the power of dreams, yes, but especially, and more simply, the power of optimism. Refusing to sink into despair, no matter how low your station becomes; no matter how bleak and changeless your future looks; no matter how undervalued you are; no matter how much others choose to degrade you.
And, of course, we all love the rags-to-riches aspect of the story. But why is that? We rejoice when a woman, who has so much to give but so little expectations or prospects, is finally united with a man who appreciates her for who she is and who will give her the life she deserves, taking her out of the destitution of her former life.
What if the reason we all find ourselves so drawn to this the story is that it is, in essence, what happened for us through Christ? Of course, I recognize that there are worlds of difference between the story of salvation and the story "of the little cinder girl"--Cinderella was taken into the royal family because she herself deserved it, while we will never be able to deserve what Jesus did for us. But the beauty for ashes portion of the tale is the same. Jesus Christ took a broken world that was poverty-stricken in more ways than one and ransomed it. He redeemed the desolation of humanity and gave us the hope of future glory. Like Cinderella, we now have access to our own Prince. Ours is a Prince of Peace, and He invites us to leave behind the destitution of our sin and thrive in the light of His majesty.