Cinderella is one of those classic fairy tales that all kinds of little kids (and not so little kids) grow up loving. It’s the kind of story that many of us can relate to: our hero is treated unfairly by people in power, but she works hard and lives virtuously and one day a magical person comes into her life and rewards her for all her suffering. I think most of us would like to think that all of our suffering will one day be rewarded, whether it be the twenty-something paying their dues by slogging through a terrible job in hopes of moving upward and onward to something better, or the ten year old, indignant that their parents insist on cleaning their room again, wishing and hoping for their Hogwarts letter to take them away. Maybe it’s that we’re waiting for our proverbial “prince” (whatever form they may take) to sweep us off our feet.
There are so many versions of the story of Cinderella, and while the core story stays mostly the same, each version sends a different kind of message about what kinds of virtues are worthy of reward, and what kinds of rewards are worthy of which virtues. The results are a mixed bag, especially when we take a critical eye to some of the more popular versions of the classic fairy tale. We have to ask ourselves, should we really want to be like our Cinderellas, and do we even really want her prize?