Glass Slippers


I liked my mom’s edition of Cinderella better than the one Disney put on, much less the ones that were immortalized in sappy picture books all my friends seemed to have sitting around the house.

Part of it was, yes, that I was a rather sanguinary little brat, at least in my entertainment (in reality I was so tender hearted I rescued insects and lizards in peril of drowning in the washing tank.)  I did after all devour the rather extensive collection of Captain Morgan’s adventures, all the blood and gore immortalized in litographs with a page of transparent paper protecting them.

But part of it was that it was more… satisfying.  You see, in mother’s version, Cinderella had decided to make her father marry the widow woman in the next estate because this woman petted her much and gave her sweets.

Cinderella’s father told her he’d marry the widow when the pockets of his hunting jacket wore out, so Cinderella stuffed them with salt, to corrupt the leather.

So when she found herself semi-enslaved, she’d brought it on herself, which was far more satisfying than the “out of nowhere, she’s a victim.”  She also contrived on purpose to summon the fairy godmother, so cleaning up her own mess in a way.

Yes, this book also contained the redemption of the evil plot devices er…. I mean step sisters who are transformed into statues until they realize the error of their ways, and then married to likely noblemen.

BUT it is Cinderella’s arc that’s most satisfying.

I’m not ragging on Harry Potter, mind.  I like Harry Potter.  But we were talking about this yesterday in the comments, and both his being ill treated by his family and his specialness are things he was born with (Magic and the ability to be the boy who lived.)

So he is a hero because he was born into the role.

Yes, I know, in the end he has to fight and make the right choices, which is much, much better than what we see otherwise, but let’s be real, okay?  He starts out special just because he’s special.

A lot of main characters these days seem to be that way because they were born into the role.  The hidden prince did nothing to bring about his downfall or his redemption.  Now this has worked through since pre-history, at least if we assume Oedipus as a hidden prince of sorts, but when most stories are like that, it leads one to expect nobility of birth, as it were.  Which is very antithetical to the American idea but quite in keeping with leftist notions in which you belong to a group by birth (their having come right around to feudalism.).

One of the things I like in Heinlein’s books (and in older works of Dumas, or of Scott or a dozen other writers) is that heroes got into their trouble by their own hands, and got out of it the same way.

This is not just an aesthetic opinion.  It builds the expectation that you’re expected to do something, even in hopeless situations.

Perhaps that’s why the super-hero trend, even when I enjoyed some of the movies, hit me the wrong way.  If common people are in the expectation that they can’t do anything to save themselves, it becomes all too easy to wait for the super hero, the pre-ordained being or the perfect president to rescue them.  And in their absence to decide to burn it all down.

That’s not who we are.  We are Americans — every man a king — and each of us should do what we can to get ourselves out of bad situations, whether of our own device or inherited.

There is no one perfect or preordained to save the world.  You either save your own little piece of it or not, and you’re not required to be perfect to make a great difference.

Just do it.



255 thoughts on “Glass Slippers

  1. Interesting. I don’t think I’d ever run across a variant of Cinderella where she was responsible for the marriage of the father and stepmother. Puts a different spin on her, definitely. Also puts a rather different and more devious spin on the stepmother.

    I will disagree, however, that stories are necessarily better when the hero gets into his mess by his own devices. There’s nothing wrong with that story beginning, but there’s also nothing wrong with the hero who gets into trouble by accident of birth or circumstance or just by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. What makes the story is not how the hero gets into trouble but how he gets out of trouble. Sometimes you screw up and have to face the consequences. Sometimes, the universe just decides to take a dump on you, and you have to decide how you react. A character who whines about how unfair it is makes for a bad story. A character who decides to clean it all up, then give it back to the universe, can be just as good a hero as the one dealing with his own mistakes.

    1. *nod* That’s exactly why I don’t mind the born with it version of “great power,” so long as they deal with the “great responsibility” part right.

      Sometimes you do have a leg up on others. Maybe because you’re smart. Or you’re one of the Incredibles. Or whatever.

      Sometimes things just are cruddy. Say, you’re born with spina bifida, a cleft pallet and develop cerebral palsy in the 11th century. You’re lucky enough to survive, and you’re lucky enough that there’s an abby that will take you in…basically so you have someplace to die. As it happens, they take care of your body and let you take care of your mind…with access to all that they’ve got.
      Then you survive, become world-famous for your insane intellect, people are singing your song as far in the future as you are from the lady being sung of (Salve Regina) and you’re AKA “Saint Herman the Cripple.” (or “Of Reichenau” if that might cause pain)

    2. That’s actually one of the milder ones. There are versions where she has a neighbor or governess who coaxes her into murdering her mother or already present stepmother and then persuading her father to marry this woman. Or of course the versions where her problem is her older sisters.

      And there are versions where she gets to the ball with no magic at all, or because of aid she won in an episode of “the kind and unkind girls” or because she made a deal with a Rumpelstiltskin figure.

      Some more:

      The truly enthusiatic will want Cinderella Tales from Around the World</I. by Heidi Anne Heiner even though a few are only summaries, some (including the first) are a bit vaguely related, and she omitted all the Cinderfellas.

      1. My favorite version (Grimm?) is where the stepsisters mutilate their feet in order to fit the glass slipper. A helpful raven warns the prince, “prithee look back, there’s blood on the track” “prithee look down, there’s blood on the ground.”

        The stepsisters’ willingness to mutilate themselves really struck me as how much people are willing to do achieve a goal (money & power here).

        We as a culture need to dust off and restore fairy tales — not the Disney versions, but the older ones with obvious moral lessons.

      2. The end of the story in the version of Grimm that I read as a teen, made Cinderella a right vengeful little thing. When she married the prince she had her stepmother and stepsisters eyes plucked out then sent out into the world to make a way for themselves. That would’ve been rough during the era. She takes her father in but treats him somewhat shabbily.

        Sarah, I am like you in one respect, I’ve discovered. In a story I want things blowing up and the body parts flying. In real life, I’ve been warning everyone to watch out for the anoli lizard that got in the house and don’t step on him. They can color change like a chameleon, so he matches the stone floors perfectly. He’s too cute to harm. I put spiders outside on a bush. I try to let flies back outside. If they won’t go, they meet an untimely death if I can smack them. Mosquitoes? They’re, every one, on Death row. Wasps, too. Bees, I let be.

        1. Ditto here, although stuff that’s a threat dies ASAP too– black widows are on death row, and any spider that might be a seriously venomous one. Snakes are defended unless they’re a known to bite type.

          My girls also try to help put moths outside. -.-

    3. I’ve seen it more often in other fairy tales—lesser-known ones, like “The Ugly Heads” or any variant in which there’s only one stepsister, and the good sister gets “blessed” with jewels falling from her mouth, while the bad one has snakes and frogs fall from her mouth. (That’s usually good for a retelling twist, including one where the “good” sister crashes the economy.) “You shall bathe in milk and rose petals if you convince your father to marry me,” and that usually lasts all of three days.

  2. I think that is why I liked the movie “Ever After” best of all movie versions of Cinderella. Cinderella was turned into a servant but she was somewhat willing to do it because she wanted to save her home. She made time to be with friends even if it was stolen time here and there. And she rescued herself in the end, though the prince was on his way to get her. One of her step-sisters also saw the injustices and tempered her treatment of Cinderella and eventually came down fully on her side.

    1. Definitely my favorite. Though there’s a Disney channel movie called A Cinderella Story that comes in second for largely the same reason.

  3. Oddly, I’m reminded of the hating on the song “Let it Go” from Frozen– which is a villain song mostly notable for the villain not having a malicious bone in her body and working out of equal parts fear and altruism, but other than that is just as catchy as the other good villain songs. Heck, I haven’t even SEEN the princess and the frog, and I still sometimes find myself singing “I’ve got friends on the other side” — and don’t get me started on either “Shiny” or “You’re Welcome.” (K, he’s not malicious, either, but he’s definitely an antagonist who does NOT have her best interests in mind)

    A lot of the complaints were…well… seemed to be more about what they brought with them than about the song, or a failure to understand that the reason she is (almost) tragic is because the song speaks to us. Not unlike Gaston’s “Kill the Beast!” or Genie-Jafar’s “Second Rate” or… well, actually can’t think of a villain song that didn’t do a ton of character building where you can understand their motivation, even while seeing they’re wrong.

    Note, you don’t HAVE to like super heroes, or Harry Potter– even if I think Potter’s more of a deconstruction done right of the “special because born that way” thing– I just don’t want you to be like that one Catholic guy who flips out about how all dragons are inherently evil and if there’s a good dragon it’s evil rar yada yada yada.

    1. LOL. Obviously I don’t think all dragons are evil. And I do like Harry Potter. Bought it for the kids. This is rather a concatenation of things like oh, the vampire in twilight falling in love with a not at all special girl, etc.
      I don’t even think super heroes are evil. It’s just the idea of “you were born special and will be rewarded for it” rankles.

      1. Green Lantern can do a lot of things because of a magic ring he received. from a dying alien. The important thing is what he does with the ring.
        Did you read the version of Cinderella where the step sisters had to wear burning shoes?

      2. Oh yeah, I know you’re sensible about it– there’s stuff where I just can’t stand it, just annoys me irrationally– just too many folks take that extra step and ignore that it’s an IRRATIONAL annoyance!

      3. I never really got the whole Harry Potter thing.
        My reaction to reading the first book was “I liked it much better when it was titled Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”. I have vague recollections of reading the second one, but nothing that would cause me to feel strongly about it one way or another.

        As to the larger thrust, I’m all for a setting having its Aragorns. But they shouldn’t be the only heroes, or even necessarily be a protagonist.

        1. Aragorn had a plan and he stuck to it. For something like ninety years. Usually you have to be a villain to have a complex plan to Get the Girl and Get the Kingdom, but he managed it without doing anything too villainous.

          So of course they make him Reluctant in the movies. Bah.

          1. The movies were faced with a serious problem; THE LORD OF THE RINGS is a seventh century Eddic Saga told in Edwardian English. Other than the growth of Merry and Pippin, it has no character development to speak of. This makes it practically unfilmable, by modern standards of narrative. So Jackson shoehorned some development into Aragorn. In the book Aragorn had a plan and stuck to it for ninety years in some part because he was a cardboard cutout, not unlike Beowulf (who I found boring).

            The LOTR movies are not films of the book, they are films of the story the book tells in a different way. I disagree with a lot of the choices Jackson made (I LIKE ‘The Scouring of the Shire’), but still enjoy the films.

            1. He stuck to the plan for ninety years because he was a hero, from a line of heroes, who had “developed his character” long before we “met” him. The modern obsession with “hero’s journeys” has done almost as much damage to storytelling as cultural Marxism.

      4. the vampire in twilight falling in love with a not at all special girl, etc.

        That was one of the big selling points of the book, of course. The nearly universal complaints the young un’s in my book club had over the movie was that the actress playing wossname, Belle? Was too pretty.

        It’s a very un-American sentiment, of course. Gosh darnit, even are lady-folk are more manly than you effete Eurotrash and barbaric tribesman laboring under the lash of Islam: they even have to WORK for (and earn) True Love!

        It is, however, true to the emotional reality of Eros, or romantic love. She loves me not because of my money, wealth, power, good looks, and many good habits (I floss twice a day!) but for the virtue of who I am in totality. I expect God loves us this way (redeemed mankind, i.e. the catholic church is often portrayed as the Bride of Christ) And she really does, at least at the height of the “falling in love experience”. It’s nuts, but it’s a useful benchmark to shoot for during the long years building friendship, affection, and desire. And it comes back from time to time in echoes if the couple put in the work.

          1. I’ve seen two (or five, depending on hiw you count) Operas. The Ring Cycle (on tape) and Turnadot. The Ring was godsawful; not a single character in the whole mess that seemed to have a three digit IQ. And Woton is a despicable swine. Turnadot made me feel great sympathy for the three bureaucrat characters who were trying desperately to keep the country running while everyone else was acting insane. I also think that Les Miserables should count as an Opera, but while I loved the music I couldn’t help but feel that Valjean could have saved a lot of tragedy if he had frickin’ emingrated to the New World.

            So, Operas aren’t my thing. OTOH I like sitting and watching a Symphony, which my Opera loving in-laws find inexplicable.

            1. Haven’t you read Norse mythology? Wotan is a despicable swine. The Norse didn’t worship their god of war, they appeased him. That is why, in part, rather than loot the baggage of their defeated foes they would toss it all into a peat bog.

              The Norse knew war, and they knew it for the treacherous occupation it is.

              1. This.

                So very much this.

                It isn’t exactly a mystery why there was so little backsliding after Christan conquerers and holy men showed Odin to be lacking power.

                1. Zeus was the Harvey Weinstein of the Greek pantheon.

                  Possibly of all mythology; it would require research I do not wish to undertake.

                  1. Not… entirely.

                    Remember the time. Zeus was the king of the gods. And kings in that time had concubines as a matter of course. Recall that David had dozens (we won’t even talk about Solomon). His great sin with Bathsheba was that she was *married.*

                    Basically, Zeus was portrayed as a king who carried *droit de seigneur* to its logical extreme (with us–I’ve never heard of him seducing a goddess. And why should he care if mortals object?) As far as he was concerned, the only problem was that his wife might as well have been the goddess of jealousy.

                    He looks like a prime villain to us, but I suspect the ancient Greeks just sighed and said “He’s a king and a god. What do you expect?”

                    Which brings us back to Odin, I guess.

                    1. A couple of his conquests were supernaturals– not mortals– and concubine is an actual role, not a hook-up. (I seem to remember one was turned into a tree, and there was some minor drama because it pissed off her father, the river, which also pissed off his boss, the Ocean….)

                      He probably was doing the thing that is the source of the myth of droit de seigneur, though; I’ve heard that the closest evidence anybody’s come up with for a real life example of that custom was some fertility cults.

                      More likely, natural expression of being an over-indulgent powerful male with no safety rails.

                    2. Some of it may have been Worship Of Zeus Came Into Areas where a goddess had a male consort and Zeus replaced the male consort. 😉

                    3. From what I remember, they did tend to “identify” other gods as really being theirs– and while I was trying to find who it was in the Norse group that they identified Zeus/Jupiter with, I found out the word is Syncretism and that it was a little messy even for the mixing of Greeks and Romans, although Zeus and Hera fit pretty well. Their virgin huntress, less well, although I’ve closed the page where they laid it out……

                    4. Most of them identified Zeus/Jupiter with Thor. Some, pointing out that they held Mercury as the chief god, said that Thor was Hercules.

              2. Der Ring des Niebelung is a (quite literal ) god awful mess of happenings. Wotan/Odin is downright nasty and trying to manipulate the world. And lets not get into what Siegmund and Sieglinde do. For a moment when I figured out Luke and Leia’s relationship I wondered if Mr. Lucas would go there but he’s too much of a hack to make that work.

                For a real fun take on the ring cycle find a copy of Tom Holts “Expecting somenone Taller” ( Its a hoot that feels like Monty Python does the Ring Cycle. And yes Wotan is still a jerk…

              3. Stupid HTML. Stupid WP for lacking a preview function. Stupid me for not more carefully reviewing text before posting. Revised:

                The Norse didn’t worship their god of war, they appeased him. That is why, in part, rather than loot the baggage of their defeated foes they would toss it all into a peat bog.

                The Norse knew war, and they knew it for the treacherous occupation it is.

            2. There’s lots of different stories in opera. Sorry you had bad luck with yours. If you get a good story, though you get the great music (symphony) plus the great story. Though I have to admit I find the opera chorus or the 2+ lead songs (The “pace e joia” bit in Barber of Seville is a treat. And hilarious) to the arias. Most of the arias bore me.

            3. “I also think that Les Miserables should count as an Opera”

              There’s actually a practical and easy reason why it doesn’t. Opera, as a musical style, is distinguished by one crucial characteristic: its music is designed to be sung over an orchestra without mechanical amplification. Musicals such as Les Miserables and anything by Stephen Sondheim are 1. too loud and complicated in the background orchestration and 2. too quick and complicated in the vocal line to be sung without microphones. Basically, you would *thrash* your vocal cords attempting it, and doing it on a typical “musical” schedule of six performances a week? You’d be burning through performers worse than football players getting brain damage.

              Now, if you want something that actually counts as opera and is *fun*, try Gilbert & Sullivan. There’s the big three—HMS Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance, and The Mikado—that everybody has heard of, but there are a whole lot of other ones that they did, some of which are far superior IMO. We just finished a run of Patience, which makes fun of the Aesthetic Movement (or, more accurately, people who follow fads). Amazing music, an absolutely ludicrous battle between rival poets, and a whole troop of fangirls. Or there’s Ruddigore, which is a spoof on melodrama (which apparently used to be a serious art form), and which features one of the best classical Halloween songs that’s largely unknown. (Technically, these are “operettas”, which means they have dialogue in between the songs, but they’re in ENGLISH.)

        1. I expect God loves us the way we love a dog doomed to remain a (not particularly bright) puppy forever, never quite mastering becoming house-broken, barking at squirrels, the mailmen and things going bump in the night.

              1. It’s about that whole “born again” thing. Which is to say, being remade over so we CAN do better.

                1. I suspect you are mistaking your theology for mine. I do not believe we attend the same church. My understanding of being “born again” does not include immediate perfection, merely the beginning of a process of becoming more tolerable to our master.

                  1. Except that’s what I said (since I said nothing about the time taken), not what you said, which was all about being doomed to not change, not becoming better.

                    1. I think you took an overly literal reading of my comment. Compared to Him we are doomed to remain inferior, which is not the same as doomed to be unchanging. We can never approach His understanding, thus “not particularly bright” nor, lacking His understanding, are we — even Born Again, even granted His Grace — likely to forever forego barking at squirrels, the mailmen and things going bump in the night.

                      Gradations, don’t you know. Even saved we remain human.

          1. Although, giving your question a second thought, if we insist on being dogs, instead of men, I think God is merciful enough to love us and embrace us anyway. But I bet it makes him really sad.

          2. The lady who trained both my dogs put it this way: “A dog is like a permanent three year old: they know everything they’re not supposed to do…. and every so often, they’re going to do it anyway.”

            I can’t help but think God came to the same conclusion about us….

          3. It makes sense if you think of God having to deal with 7 billion 3 year olds. Utterly sure of themselves, totally clueless.

    2. I don’t think Mother Knows Best does a lot of character building (even though I LOVE IT)–but Mother Gothel is a ridiculously simple character, in the end. It’s HER flower. And she’ll do anything she has to to keep it….

      1. I thought it was a rather awesome distillation of years of mental and emotional abuse to keep the girl under control in a prison of her own mind– yeah, very VERY simple character, though. All she had to be!

        1. I found Goethel a realistic character, personally. There are plenty of very abusive people whose raison d’etre is stupidly simple, or their reasons for what they do are incredibly simple, for the things that they do. (Such as all the shit happening since Trump got elected because NOT MY PRESIDENT SHE DIDN’T WIN NOOO WAAAAH REVOLUTION NOW, the anti-Sad Puppies, etc, for real world examples.)

          A villain doesn’t have to have complex motivations for me. Abusive people often abuse their victims to ‘ensure they do not slip out of my control’. A stalker stalks their target either out of a ‘love that means you cannot be with someone else’ or extreme hatred. These are not lazy villains but realistic, because people do get fixated on A Thing, and … yeah. So lots of personal experience (from the victim’s perspective) there…

          1. *nod*
            Complex is more fun to read, and gives you a chance to emote with them before the whole “they are evil” thing, but… a lot of it is very simple.

          2. I definitely enjoy a straightforward, unrepentant villain without a Freudian excuse from time to time. For all we try to gild the lily (and lie to ourselves about our motivations, honestly)… the while bag seems usually incredibly banal.

          3. Agreed. Sometimes the answers are simple, but the execution is quite difficult. Sometimes elaborate epicycles are actually easier to do than figure out the simple answer.

            But if you sub out “complex” and “does not substitute cardboard ideologically-approved cartoons for real human beings” it works.

        2. Oh, absolutely–agreed on all counts. 😀

          I should clarify that Tangled is one of my very favorite movies–and Gothel is a huge part of that. But yeah, it’s Rapunzel–and her relationship with Gothel–that’s developed in that song.

          It goes a little bit on theories on immortality I’ve been developing a while. Death is an inextricable part of being human… in a real way, it seems like her longevity is a huge part of what stripped the humanity from her. Everyone else will be dead soon, why should I care?

          Except the flower could theoretically have maintained a number of people…

          Anyway, kind of an interesting thought.

          1. It sure didn’t seem to be damaged by helping others, no.
            …so the whole thing could’ve been fixed by her being a Big Damn Hero and popping up to go “I don’t know if this will work, but bring the queen to X and I’ll try to heal her.”

            If it didn’t work, they would’ve ignored the flower. If it did…no threat.

          2. The only negative response I had to the Gothel villain was…

            Dang. Another nail in the adoption coffin. Sigh.

            It’s still a true depiction and why adoption is so fraught. For every would-be parent who brings real, committed, always-and-forever home love to a prospective adoptee, the reality is that (1) Every adoption necessarily beings with a tragedy for the child (2) There really are a lot of monstrous human beings who want to exploit children.

              1. Not the elf’s fault the housewife didn’t put out the requisite bowl of milk, nor that people lack sense enough to not walk widdershins ’round a church.

      2. Simple character? Lie Horton the Elephant, the elephant faithful one hundred per cent? His dedication to duty regardless of suffered humiliations contrasts with the self-indulgent entitled approach of that lazy bird Mayzie.

      3. The first time I heard that song, I immediately decided to use it as an audition song. (Alto songs are rare and precious things.) I got the sheet music… and found that they’d marked all of the talky-talky AS talky-talky, so I had to reconstruct the melody. (Because—that’s not always what you want to do, thank you Rex Harrison.)

    3. I liked the song Let it Go without seeing Frozen (kids had outgrown such by then) precisely because it was a villain’s song. It was a place where you detected a seam in the story, where clearly the woman who sang it was supposed to have been the villain.

      I listened to it – and watched it, of course – three times on YouTube. During the second time the kids went “Daddy: really?”

      “Yes, really,” I said, and explained why.

      The ending of the song is also a villain’s ending: She gives the viewer a smug look, then flounces into the castle, the door slamming shut behind her.

      What would have been great is if Disney had the nerve to have the character at that point decide that yes, she’ll be evil and to sleet with what everyone thinks. My understanding is that it would have been a different story, with a different beginning. Then the turning point is the character decides no, she won’t be evil. Both choices that she would make and live by.

      1. I’d love to read that story, but I’m glad they didn’t go that route– half of why my girls love it is that there aren’t any other sisters.

        All this worry about getting princesses in the right shade, or with the right genital desires, but none for such a basic thing as “hey, sisters count, too.”

  4. I like your mother’s version better too. As for Harry Potter… I like that he gets into trouble because everyone around him thinks he should be noble and able to come out on top when in the story the reader realizes that he has no clue and he gets advice or accepts help. Without Herimoine (sp) he would have failed most of the time. 🙂

  5. Heinlein’s characters didn’t so much as get themselves into trouble as much as they were faced with challenges. If you were one of his protagonists, you could bet that there was some skill that you needed, but demanded a truckload of work to master.

    Just like real life. Great deeds await, but great accomplishment demands great effort.

      1. Okay. How do you rate Starship Troopers then? I like it because the whole thing is one big deus-ex-machine fairy-tale plot motivation after another, but Kip just hangs doggedly onto his can-do spirit through it all. He even wins out because Fate and the Author Just LIkes Me, but doesn’t seem to give two pins for it.

        He’s like a libertarian Puddleglum.

        Have you already done a “My favorite Heinlein” post? It could be fun, if not.

          1. Aaaaaaaaargh. Yes. It is. Clearly I need to log off. I admit, I lose my car keys with distressing regularity and sometimes confuse my daughter’s name with one of the dogs, but when I can’t keep the names of the books I’ve read straight, I’m too tired to think.

              1. Pft. EVERYONE calls me by my brother’s name. Oddly enough, even people who haven’t met him. But mostly it’s people who knew my dad when my brother was young, and since I’m so much younger than him, use his name when they meet me.

                I drew the line whenever my mother called me by my SISTER’s name, though. 🙂

                  1. I was an only, but my mother was impressively scatterbrained sometimes; the dogs and I both learned to come if she was still going after the third random name.

                    1. My mom called me dad’s name my brother’s name and the CAT’s name before mine.
                      My favorite was when my brother was in the shower (next to the kitchen) and the cat jumped on the counter and started eating the raw chicken. Mom runs in and screams, Alvarim, get off the counter. Alvarim, get off the counter.
                      Brother comes out of bathroom, towel around his waist, looking sullen (he must have been 17 because I was 7 or so and this was the funniest thing ever) “I’m not on the counter.”
                      Mom grabbing the cat “I wasn’t talking to you.”
                      My brother’s expression, in memory, still makes me laugh.

              2. My Mom gets me and my brother mixed up all the time. Supposedly her mother had to run through the names of her kids until she got to the correct name.

                  1. I’ve but the one child, so it hardly applies, but I have lived with up to three cats at once and never confused their names.

                    And anyone who tells you otherwise will tell you other lies as well.

          2. And Have Space Suit Will Travel was not any of those. He has plenty of agency. If you could describe the book it would be the boy scout’s motto “be prepared.”

            1. The description seems better fitted to John Thomas, of The Star Beast who is certainly dragged through events by forces much greater than he.

              1. That’s one of the Heinleins I could never like. It took half a dozen tries over decades to finally make it to the end, and all I got was “not much happens, not much else happens, The End.”

            2. But once he’s finished fixing up the suit, pretty much everything he does is futile. Heroic, but futile. The sole exception is his heroic feat in planting the distress beacon — which he couldn’t have built.

              Which I always thought was the point, or part of it. He couldn’t win–he was just too far out of his weight class–but he impressed the h*** out of everybody he encountered (except the Centaurians, and cannibal Nazis don’t count). You get the impression he was part of the reason the Galactics thought Earth was a potential threat–*and* that we could someday be valuable allies. They saw his resourcefulness, his courage, and his sheer grit, and extrapolated.

                1. As I said, he impressed everyone he met. And if you recall, his argument didn’t work either. I, at least, got the impression that *he* impressed them more than his defense did. Especially his request that he be sent home to die with his people if the judgement went against them.

                  In the end it wasn’t futile. but he “won” because of who he was, not because of what he accomplished.

  6. I liked the ending where the evil stepsisters had their eyes pecked out going into and out of the wedding ceremony. This is from a beautifully illustrated book which my mother gave to me when I was a little girl. Sanguinary enough?

    1. Aschenputtel. From none other than the Brothers Grimm. (Possibly among others.)

      Prudent. Cinderella tales that don’t dispose of the stepmother and stepsisters properly may find her murdering the heroine after her baby is born and trying to substitute her own daughter.

  7. I’ve been mulling over a plot idea that I’ll toss out here. Maybe someone can make something of it. It’s a reversal of the classic “Hero of humble origins must prove himself worthy to marry the Princess.” Except in this case, it’s the heroine who is of common birth…and must prove to the King (or Queen) that she’s got the character to be both wife and future Queen to Prince Brave-and-handsome. So they toss challenges at her. A charming courtier or two to test her fidelity. A disaster or two to try her charity. Snarky ladies of the court to find out whether she’s truly kind or faking it. Maybe even a finale involving real danger to prove her courage (this might not be a setup).

    THEN the King approves the marriage, secure in the knowledge that the throne will be in safe hands.

    1. I like it!

      It sounds like an updating of several classic fairy tales– you’d have to ask Mary for names, the only one I can remember is “the clever ____” where the gal was answering a riddle by being neither clothed nor naked, riding nor walking, and some third thing, so she was wrapped in a fishing net and skidding along with a donkey and…tossing out salt or something like it was seeds?

    2. It is time and past that folks “update” something that hasn’t been done by Disney.

      Hm…just realized a whole lot of the “updating” is just rather odd fan-fic of Disney movies…..

        1. Retellings, sure, they’re all over– usually not even labeled as such, it’s a surprise filling– but I’m looking at the “updates” of stories that scream to the heavens what they’re doign.

    3. Hmm. In the Honorverse, the King (or Queen) of Manticore is required by law to marry a commoner. I don’t think I’ve seen any stories about that by Weber or in any anthologies set in that ‘verse; but I am missing 3 or 4 of those books.

      1. “Queen’s Gambit” by Jane Lindskold (in Worlds Of Honor) is the closest as while it starts with Elizabeth & Justin engaged to be married, the story does touch on how they got together.

        Of course, the “main part” of the story is an explanation on why QE2 hated Haven so much.

      2. He did a couple of the Queen’s brother’s courtship of and eventual marriage to a pirate queen. (OK not quite a pirate or a queen, but I couldn’t resist and she is close enough for government work.)

      3. Actually, there was a short story involving Justin at King Roger’s death, and another one on how Elizabeth’s brother Michael met and married his Masadan / Grayson born wife.I think they were in the first two anthologies.

      4. In Doc Smith’s (posthumous) *Imperial Stars* series (Stephen Goldin wrote most of it) the Emperor/Empress must marry a commoner. One entire book has the heroes undercover at a Progress–a truly odd event where the Crown Princess spends a week or two at a posh resort with a dozen or so eligible bachelors, each chosen to represent the very best his planet can offer. She well and truly hates them–THE BACHELORETTE hadn’t been thought of yet, but this was almost as “honest”–but how many commoners is she likely to meet in a year, otherwise?

        The story didn’t live up to the premise, sadly, but there were moments.

          1. Well, IIRC, she hates the Progress because it forces her into close association with a bunch of preening idiots who are overly full of themselves.

            She finally found a good one, though.

            1. That, too. The guys who won the “Who Wants to Marry the Princess” exams tended to be rather full of themselves. She had to kiss a lot of frogs.

              Metaphorically speaking, of course…

            1. Depends on how much they disliked them. Parking themselves on a noble for a month or two could be ruinous. A day’s visit would lend royal lustre to the noble without too much burden.

        1. Yup. It would have been fascinating to see what Smith could have done with that whole series had he lived.

    4. There’s always “The Three Spinners” and its variants: the heroine goes into service, spiteful servants tell the queen mother she bragged about remarkable feats in spinning (plus, sometimes, weaving and sewing), the queen mother orders her to do it or die, three UGLY old women help her, the queen mother marries her to the king secure in the knowledge that she has an industrious daughter-in-law, the bride fulfills her promise to the old women by welcoming them to the wedding as her aunts, the old women tell the king they used to be as beautiful as her but were uglified by their spinning, and the king forbids her to do any more.

        1. Embrace the power of “and”!

          No, seriously, I agree. It would have to be a test of courage. But I was more thinking of the elements that would let her pull off that cathartic success-against-the-odds.

          But courage yes. It’s the thing that makes all the other virtues possible.

    5. In A CIVIL CAMPAIGN Lois Bujold hints at a story I would LOVE to see; she has the former head of Impsec ask a woman if she knows some of the fairytales were the unsuitable suitor is given three impossible tasks, and then warned “Don’t do that with Miles. Just…don’t”.

      Sounds like it could be good for a giggle, as a framework.

    6. Read one once where a king sent his son out to gain a little wisdom. Gave him a sheepskin, and told him to come back when he’d sold it for a fair price.

      “Oh, and bring me back the money. And the skin.”

      So he wanders the land, getting alternately cussed out and laughed at, until a wizard tells him to say “Good morrow, kindly” to the next soul he meets. This turns out to be a young peasant woman, who is rather surprised to be greeted so by a nobleman.

      After some conversation (by the end of which he is starting to seriously wish she were a little closer to his station in life), he admits his problem. “Is that all?” she says, gives him the money, plucks off all the wool, and gives him the skin back.

      He bids her farewell, goes home both happy and sad, and gives his father the loot. “How’d you figure it out?”

      The prince tells his story, and Dad blows his stack. “You met a woman with that much sense, and you let her get away?? YOU IDIOT!! GO BACK THERE AND MARRY HER! NOW!!!”

      Not the standard fairy-tale attitude. Might be why I remember it.

      1. Reminds me of “A Pottle of Brains” — but there are a fair number of tales about simpletons in your standard collection.

        1. Yup. A lot of fun, most of them. This one stuck with me because of the king’s attitude–not your typical class consciousness. I think, looking back, that it may have been Irish. Tiny kingdoms, less caste-y, and the riddle-game aspect…

  8. One common thread I got from Heinlein’s YA novels was that you were allowed to fail, and yes, you got the consequences of those failures. The journey to adulthood was acceptance that you failed, the consequences were deserved, that indeed, it was up to you to dig your way out, and in the end, the heroes did succeed.

    We know that all too often people do their best to dig themselves out and fail at that anyway. But you’re more likely to find help while trying than you will just sitting there doing nothing but saying, “Poor me, I’m entitled to be helped.”

  9. I’ll be damned. There really was a Captain Harry Morgan. And a rather colorful fellow too. Here all these years I thought it was just an advertising gimmick for rum.

        1. Captain Stratton’s Fancy

          Oh some are fond of red wine, and some are fond of white,
          And some are all for dancing by the pale moonlight;
          But rum alone’s the tipple, and the heart’s delight
          Of the old bold mate of Henry Morgan.

          Oh some are fond of Spanish wine, and some are fond of French,
          And some’ll swallow tay and stuff fit only for a wench;
          But I’m for right Jamaica till I roll beneath the bench,
          Says the old bold mate of Henry Morgan.

          Oh some are for the lily, and some are for the rose,
          But I am for the sugar-cane that in Jamaica grows;
          For it’s that that makes the bonny drink to warm my copper nose,
          Says the old bold mate of Henry Morgan.

          Oh some are fond of fiddles, and a song well sung,
          And some are all for music for to lilt upon the tongue;
          But mouths were made for tankards, and for sucking at the bung,
          Says the old bold mate of Henry Morgan.

          Oh some are fond of dancing, and some are fond of dice,
          And some are all for red lips, and pretty lasses’ eyes;
          But a right Jamaica puncheon is a finer prize
          To the old bold mate of Henry Morgan.

          Oh some that’s good and godly ones they hold that it’s a sin
          To troll the jolly bowl around, and let the dollars spin;
          But I’m for toleration and for drinking at an inn,
          Says the old bold mate of Henry Morgan.

          Oh some are sad and wretched folk that go in silken suits,
          And there’s a mort of wicked rogues that live in good reputes;
          So I’m for drinking honestly, and dying in my boots,
          Like an old bold mate of Henry Morgan.

          John Masefield

  10. I’m glad you wrote this, Mrs. Hoyt. I’ve always been bothered by the Un-American nature of the typical mythic story. (For once I’d like to see the secret hidden king get himself killed in some stupid way at the beginning and a bunch of “first 200 names in the phonebook” characters have to pick up the slack and muddle along and make things work out better anyway.

    1. I seem to remember a couple of “you’re special because you THOUGHT you were special” stories, but most of the “being born special isn’t required” things suffer from Author Chucking An Anvil Tied To The Message issues.

      1. I like the ones where the old man teaches an ordinary Joe everything he knows, and then Joe has to take it from there.

        1. That was a recurring theme of Heinlein stories: the competent man training the naive young man. The relationship occurs between Prof and Mannie, between Jubal and Michael, between Baslim and Thorby (who, it turns out, was born special!)

          1. Well, considering where Baslim found Thorby, I suspect that Thorby could have thought “being born special” makes you a target. 😉

          2. In Starman Jones, Sam plays that role for Max. But one of the neat elements is the set-up of Max’s “super-power” which yes, does save the day in the end in a dramatic resolution of the B action-plot element.

            But the main plot: will Max realize his dream of going to the stars and building a life for himself as a free man is based entirely on a combination of good luck, bad luck, the kindness of adults who look out for young folk, and his own willingness to work as hard, and, when the chips are down, choose the “harder right” instead of the “easier wrong.”

              1. Not right entirely? I did leave our the other half – the mean-spiritednesss of adults bent on, as you say, keeping him out.

                What I was getting at is that Heinlein played fair: all these elements were in play that are outside a person’s control, both good and bad, but when we get to the sticking point, the characters choose what they’re going to do with the hand they’re dealt.

                1. The characters have to struggle through it.
                  One of the things I found heartening was how many of his characters had a flaw in the thing necessary for their life’s work. Like Johnny Rico being bad at math.

    2. As I recall, the setting of Howl’s Moving Castle had something along those lines – everyone knew that if three siblings went out to seek their fortunes, the first two would fail miserably and only the youngest would succeed, so the youngest was the only on worth training in fortune seeking skills.

      1. Yep. And every one of the sisters, AND the step-mother, all got what they wanted in the end through planning, training and intelligence.

      2. I have to read that book someday. I’ve only seen the Miyazaki movie—of which the author said that it was very different from her book, but she liked it anyway. (An attitude of which I approve, when the changes are done because of the medium.)

        1. I think it’s better if you look at the book and the movie as being totally different stories vaguely inspired by the same thing.

          I love the book, it’s a quick, fun read– and I liked the movie. Miyazaki anything is kind of like John Wayne movies, it’s definitely its own thing more than what inspired it. (And that’s as someone who prefers his Rooster over the new movie– and so does my purist fangirl mother!)

          1. I think it’s better if you look at the book and the movie as being totally different stories vaguely inspired by the same thing.

            This is the reason why I liked the live action Ghost in the Shell movie. Casting ScarJo as the Major made sense because of the story of the movie.

        2. In spite of being very different, there were some things in the movie that made sense only because I read the book first.

    3. Look up “Bearskin” (Name I read it under). Soldier gets turned loose, peniless, from a war, gets the better of the devil and winds up prospering.

  11. “A lot of main characters these days seem to be that way because they were born into the role. The hidden prince did nothing to bring about his downfall or his redemption.”

    Must agree, and I don’t think much of it, unless the book is about the Hidden Prince busting his hump to rise to the occasion. Even then, meh. It better be one hell of a Hidden Prince yarn.

    I like the Accidental Hero, who is standing on the corner minding his own business when WHAMMO! some shit happens and he has to handle it Right Now. Given the opportunity and the power to be a major asshole, Accidental Hero turns it down and does the right thing because its the right thing. This is the opposite of grey goo, where everybody screws everybody over.

    I also like Monkey With A Machine Gun. Fate drops a machine gun in the monkey cage. The monkeys (us) learn to deal with it, and even use it to their advantage. I like that one because this is where we actually live, right now. Every year there’s a new technology that comes along with the potential to really shake things up, and we deal with it.

    1. Yeah. I’m playing with that in the novel-in-progress. Character thinks he’s found the Chosen One. The “Chosen One” has zero desire for anything vaguely resembling responsibility, because she’s the expendable youngest daughter. And then someone shows up with a male “Chosen One” and things get interesting. And messy. And we are nowhere near the Boss Fight yet!

      1. Boss fight!!! Woo hoo! I actually named one of my chapters Boss Battle. Hilariously, it comes in the middle of the book.

    2. “Standing on the corner, minding my own business” is very dangerous, as I understand it, because it can lead to totally unprovoked attacks by “some dude.”

      1. Zombies. That’s where they hunt their prey. Street corners. I’m going to totally put that in this book I’m working on. ~:D

    3. the Hidden Prince busting his hump to rise to the occasion

      Susan Dexter’s “Winter King’s War,” a YA trilogy about a rather befuddled Hidden Prince who succeeds despite himself. An orphan who was trained as a wwizard, his magic never works properly, he’s got an obnoxious talking cat and a sword that’s duller than a butter knife.

    4. I can think of one fictional hidden prince who is happy staying in the shadows, because his city is already in pretty good hands.
      Always wondered what would happen to Carrot…

    5. Another nice variant on the Accidental Hero is someone who does the whole stand-on-the-corner-and-get-sucked-in thing, and has every opportunity to become a villain. Then at some point it is revealed that he had always been setup to be a villain from the start, but rejected that despite everything pushing in that direction.

  12. Actually I found it refreshing when it was revealed that Harry Potter wasn’t The One Who Lived because he was inherently special, but because his mother’s love and sacrifice of herself for him protected him from Voldemort’s attack.

    1. Agree. We are all lead that Harry Potter “was born to be great”. Not. Three choices started him on his path, a fourth and fifth colored his choices later. Three choices, not his: Two children were born in the critical month to strong magical parents in the oppositions. Why did the evil one choose Harry to kill, never made clear, but that was the first choice. Second was his mother’s sacrifice and love. Third was the choice to place him outside of the magical community. Notice, none of these were Harry’s choices. The 4th & 5th items that colored his choices later, both good and bad, positive outcome or not, were the treatment and lack of love by his extended family and Snape’s treatment because he thought (or treated Harry as if he thought that) Harry believed he (Harry) was special magical royalty, when (we the readers) know that was far from true. Harry’s willingness to help others and accept help to do so (however reluctantly to protect those who wanted to help), when Harry would have been better off to just ignore, or walk away, showed his choices based on others treatment of him. Harry just had to do something to prevent bad (whatever), no matter the cost to himself. That he actual survived each step, was a surprise to him.

      1. I can kind of see both sides of it, though. Yes, he’s presented as flawed, and needing help to survive and defeat the enemy, but there’s also the background implication that none of it would have succeeded if not for the fact that he was “special”, either because he was practically Jesus in his capacity to forgive and love even those who had treated him horribly, or simply because of destiny (as represented by the prophecy).

        Oh – presuming that Dumbledore analyzed Voldemort correctly, Harry was chosen because his mother was born of Muggle parents, and therefore considered a half-breed, as Voldemort was, and therefore he thought Harry would be the more dangerous. On the other hand, and which I actually consider would be the most likely action for a real villain, he was probably going to kill them both (I can’t imagine why that possibility didn’t come up in the books), and simply went to the Potters’ house first.

      2. In several instances in the first book Harry acts out of generosity when self-interest might have led him differently.

        He doesn’t suck up to the “Cool Kid” Malfoy.

        He befriends the least of the Weasley kids, a friendship offering zero social status.

        He intervenes to stop the taunting of Neville, a low-status classmate for whom he has no particular affection, and to secure Neville’s Remembral.

        He risks himself to rescue the girl who is established as a prissy and obnoxious know-it-all.

        He extends himself, risking his life and place at Hogwarts to thwart Lord Whassname’s puppet quest to obtaing the Philosopher’s Stone, a quest which would have been frustrated by Dumbledore’s guile had Harry not … er, uhm, never mind.

        1. I’ve seen that last before, but I have to disagree. It’s likely that, had he been left to his own devices, Voldy would have been able to figure out how to retrieve it. Whether that would have happened before Dumbledore returned or not is unknown.

          1. It occurs to me that one point largely lost on American readers is that Ron (and all the other Weasleys) is ginger. It is my understanding that such things matter among the Brits.

            1. Memetically, it has transmitted somewhat behind the rest.

              But yeah, it’s A Thing.
              Although God and His angels help you if you cross Momma in going after the ginger boys.

            2. Even though the phrase “red-headed stepchild” is still in use in the U.S., people here are more likely to think of red hair as cool or desirable rather than the opposite, so it’s a little boggling to think of prejudice against it. (Is it a holdover from anti-Irish sentiment?)

            1. Being a fan of the Tolkien sainthood cause, and firmly believing Lewis is in heaven, not so much a despite for me.

              Lina Inverse? There you’d have an argument!

              1. Thank you! I was telling my daughter about that character, in terms of being chaotic but not evil but is called “akuma”, and couldn’t remember her name or the name of the anime.

                1. Her specific style of magic is the “calling on demons” sort– in contrast with the “inborn natural power which might be trained” one.

              2. One day, when the kids had a Lord of the Rings sleep over (consisted of watching all the movies and comparing it to the books), one of their friends was astounded to learn of the Tolkien – Lewis connection, as they were Narnia film/books fans, too.

                1. So, we’re sitting in the theater at the end of the first LOTR movies, and the sweet young thing behind us says to her date, “You mean we have to wait a whole year to see the next part?” to which the smitten youth replies, “You could read the book.” And she replies (after a short pause): “There’s a book??”

      3. Voldemort picked Harry over Neville because Harry was also a half-blood wizard like himself.

        Now go back and re-read the books with the knowledge that NEVILLE is the hero. He killed the last Horcrux, and it was his his love for his school and fellow students that allowed him to survive his own Avada Kedavra moment.

    1. There was a line from “Fiddler On The Roof” that goes something like this “G*d I know we’re your Chosen People but could you chose somebody else”. Speaker was a Russian Jew and I believe he said that after he learned that the Jews of his village were ordered by the Tsar to leave their village.

      1. My favorite line from FotR was when the villagers ask the Rabbi for a blessing for the Tsar:

        “May the Lord bless and keep the Tsar – far away from us.”

      2. Updated for the New Testament: “Christ, I know You said we wouldn’t be sent more than we could bear; I just wish You thought less highly of me.”

      1. There’s the Mighty Thing (sword in a stone), but outside of a few Russian stories, I can’t think of many other Choosers of the Chosen One.

      2. Nod, that annoyed John Ringo so he wrote “Princess Of Wands” where the heroine was Chosen by G*d and was willing to be Chosen by G*d.

        Note, I dislike one of Mercedes Lackey’s series because the heroine had “special powers” which she was to use For Good but said “special powers” would turn on her if she didn’t use them For Good.

        IE She had no choice but be the Chosen One but Lackey never said “who made her (and others like her) the Chosen One.

        1. Er. Isn’t that he whole point of the veneration of Mary, Mother of God?

          Isn’t there a rosary bead or two dedicated to her “Yes, Boss. I agree. Choose me.”?

          1. Looks at that comment. I was *supposed* to have cut the quote ” the heroine was Chosen by G*d and was willing to be Chosen by G*d.” used the “” tags and added my comment.

            Huh. Not sure how that happened. Time to hit the rack.

  13. Wait, what?! Transformed into statues until they realized the error of their ways? Thinking statues? That’s sick.

    Not even anything to read,not even Bible pamphlets or JW tracts? How they gonna realize any errors that way!

  14. Okay, you people are going to have me on a Cinderella reading jag. Not what I anticipated for the rest of the month…

    On the “burn it all down” – what annoys me more is not when they deliberately burn it; it’s when there are so many people that are careless with fire because Daddy or Mommy (whatever their title) is going to fix it for them.

    And… Is the artwork supposed to be that prismatic, or are my eyes going? It’s actually rather painful to look at (OPMMV).

    1. It was supposed to be looking into fairyland. It was done a while back, as an illustration in which Cinderella refuses the prince/fairyland (i.e. it was another land, not her own) and comes back to mundane land, then goes back in her fifties.
      I have the story around here somewhere.

  15. I like Harry Potter. But we were talking about this yesterday in the comments, and both his being ill treated by his family and his specialness are things he was born with (Magic and the ability to be the boy who lived.)
    So he is a hero because he was born into the role.

    Yes, I know, in the end he has to fight and make the right choices, which is much, much better than what we see otherwise, but let’s be real, okay? He starts out special just because he’s special.

    Hmm.. Third try and then I give up. If this appears 3 times, Mea culpa: wordpress delenda est.

    So I actually think Mrs. Rowling does a vary good job of handling this idea, which is, after all a traditional element in fairy tales, and practically baked into any aristrocratic culture.

    The author gives us three central characters: Harry Potter, Severus Snape, and Tom Riddle.
    1. Each boy is born magically special (as you write)
    2. Each boy is born into circumstances of unreasonable hardship. He is, to use the language of the left, victimized.
    3. Each man’s fate is, however different because of the exact same type of choices he makes.

    And what are those choices?
    1. Reject false pride (the magic of “specialness”
    2. Reject resentment and envy (the lie of special snowflake victimhood)
    3. Embrace love, trust, and self-sacrifice.

    The degree to which Potter, Snape & Voldemort make these choices results in a happy ending, an honorable ending, and total destruction.

    So yes, I not only like Harry Potter (despite Book 6: Harry Potter and the Interminable Slog in the Middle) but I admire it. And you know what a fan I am of aristos spits on the ground.

  16. I’m not very fond of the superhero genre, I figure mythology and fairy tales covered those grounds already. And something about the modern genre diminishes the good and evil of normal humans while twisting the culture of it’s responsibilities.

    1. To me, heroism includes putting oneself at risk.

      The fault of the superhero genre is that, other than the occasional supervillain, there’s no more risk to them than from me stepping on a bug.

      I guess super heroes are more interesting than the likes of Clark Savage, Jr. Doc Savage had to work to be who he was, instead of being a Secret Prince.

    1. (Excuse me, my computer seems to have the hiccups)

      ROSE DAUGHTER: Robin McKinley had already written a take on ‘Beauty and the Beast’ years earlier, but it wasn’t the story she had wanted to tell, just the one she had the chops for. THIS is the story she wanted to tell, and in it Beauty (with the consensus of her beloved) KEEPS THE BEAST, rather than getting stuck with a Prince.

      then two shorts by T. Kingfisher (also Ursula Vernon, who was the mind behind DIGGER).

      A retelling of the tale of the princess whose lips drip frogs, toads, and other amphibians; she takes stock and learns which words bring forth which critters, and sets out to repopulate endangered populations.

      A retelling of Bluebeard, in which the wife, having put up with two nosey sisters all her life, DOESN’T go into the room she isn’t supposed to. She’s had her privacy invaded all her life, she isn’t about to do that to her husband. So they have a happy forty year marriage, and she only learns he was a multiple murderer after his death.

        1. BEAUTY was a fine fairytale, a good retelling. ROSE DAUGHTER was a powerful fantasy novel based on a fairytale. Lots more depth and texture. I like them both.

  17. Re: real life Cinderella stories, it turns out that St. Marguerite Marie Alacoque had a story like that. Her father was a prosperous farmer; but when he died, his brother was made executor of the estate. This uncle made Marguerite, her mom, and her brothers all live and work as servants to his side of the family, where they were emotionally and physically abused and forbidden to leave the house without permission, even for Mass. Marguerite reacted by becoming a super-efficient cleaner and making her domestic skills impossible to punish.

    However, the trope is subverted. Various sources point out that Marguerite’s mom did have legal recourse to prevent the estate getting stolen by the uncle as he did, but the mom was either too gentle or naive to manage it, although some other widows did. After a couple years of this, Marguerite came down with rheumatic fever of some kind, and stayed paralyzed in bed for five years. Then she miraculously recovered. She had a lot of trouble following her childhood dream to be a nun, instead of being married off. (Especially since she wanted her mom out of her uncle’s clutches, and getting married young to a man of property seemed like the quickest way.)

    But her brothers actually ended up doing very well in life; one became a town mayor and the other became a parish priest. They promoted the Sacred Heart devotions, even though they didn’t know it was their sister who was the anonymous nun having the visions and promoting the devotions. (And things worked out happily for the mom, who did get the heck out of the clutches of her wicked in-laws.)

  18. I don’t think that Disney was shooting for literary genius when they made (co-opted) Cinderella. I think they were designing a story that little girls could relate to, where someone “just like them” is transformed into a princess. All in all, it was pretty successful at what it was made for.

    1. Well, yeah. But back in the day, a lot of movie companies did understand that a movie needed to appeal to all levels of audience in order to have success and staying power. They inherited that understanding from the old traveling theater companies. People like having mindless fun, but they also like something uplifting that gives them something to chew on. It’s no different than including a little song, a little dance, a little sadness, and a little moment of awesome.

      If a movie comes to meet the audience, then no matter what mood the audience member is in, he will find something that he likes. If a movie demands that the audience all be in its particular frame of mind and level of knowledge, very few individuals will be pleased by it. (Maybe none.)

        1. Thanks to growth in the world film market there appears to be a significant market for films that preach about the evilness of Amerikkka.

          We will eschew discussion of secondary effects of such lecturing for another occasion. Any claims that dumping our toxic oikophobic sewage into the world provoking such things as jihadist fervor grants agency to third world parties and that is simply Islamophobic.

      1. And thus some of the cartoon I watched as a kid (e.g. Rocky and Bullwinkle) still appeal, though now on an additional level. And so many TV shows seem so.. insulting.

    2. Major digression…..
      I run into this a lot more because I’ve got three girls, but I get so annoyed at Disney being held to an utterly different standard than EVERYONE ELSE who tells a story.

      Fairy tales get changed, to fit the person telling it, or the desired audience.

      There’s a popular, and annoyingly twerpy, habit of glorifying the nastiest version of a story that someone can find or selectively edit as the “real” version of the story. Look, Hans Christen Andersen told really sucky stories. I’m sure they appealed to someone, but I do not want my kids to be forced to read them out of some freakish purity notion.

      Disney made rather good animated versions of then-popular movies; now they’re about the only ones making musicals.

      1. I concur a little.

        But, when my son was little, we were given a book of fairy tales (by someone who assumed that any book of fairy tales would be of them told “right”). Every – EVERY – tale in the book had a sweet, non-troublesome ending. The Gingerbread Boy didn’t get eaten. I don’t even think the witch got cooked in Hansel and Gretel. The Big Bad Wolf didn’t die. Nothing bad happened to anyone as a consequence of their evil or stupidity.
        Therefore, NO MORALS existed for the stories, and therefore, NO POINT existed. Fairy tales are morality plays, for the most part. These totally obviated the point of even telling the stories. (I started making up endings to the stories beyond what was on the page – my son loved that. His mother, not so much.)

        1. *laughs* The problem with those isn’t that they were re-told, it’s that they did a cruddy job of it!

          They’re bleeping message stories. Ugh.

        2. LOL! I had nearly the opposite happen (although, I guess I did it to myself). I found a book of Grimms fairy tales that was intended to be the tales told in as close to their original forms as possible. Most of them were incredibly gruesome, although I don’t remember them as having all that much of a moral message to them. Most of them were like:

          Wicked step mother turns beloved daughter into a goose… Father cooks and eats goose for dinner.

          Moral? I guess don’t let your wicked step monster turn you into a goose.

      2. Fairy tales, being part of an oral tradition, can have no “approved” version. The teller is free to make whatever alterations, adjustments, editorial revisions that the story-teller wants.

        There is a certain age of development when toddlers demand the same story be told in exactly the same way every, single, demmed time, but most outgrow that before outgrowing short pants.

        Complaining “You didn’t tell it right!” about a folk or fairy tale is demonstration that you don’t grasp the concept underlying the tradition.

        1. (Amusingly enough, arguing about what it really said is exactly how we’ve figured out half of the readers in our house. We do the silly answer to a silly question thing…sometimes they argue back.)

          1. Aff/David’s been doing this to Vincent. It sort of bites him in the ass at times because Vincent’s starting to pick up and fire back the snark. Good ol’ Uncle Aff is very proud! I tease him about ‘being a good influence on a child, congratulations.’ (I get “how did that happen?!” or “I hope not or your kid is so screwed.“)

        2. There is a point to the Gingerbread Boy, though, as there is to most fairy tales – they were told to teach young-uns certain things. When there is no consequence for the Gingerbread Boy running away, the tale becomes pointless and not worth being told. Every story in the book had been bowdlerized of any bad happenings to the antagonist.

          Whether you believe in an “approved” version or not, those versions were almost ALL wrong.

        3. Eh, it’s the folklorists too. They once upon a time thought all fairy tales crept out of the primordial ooze with us and any changes since were contamination.

      3. I made the mistake of reading Bruno Bettelheim’s book about fairy tales. Ugh. No, nope, nopity nope. *imagine GIF of nope badger fleeing into woods*

  19. I forgot a quote from the First Memoir by the Servant of God Lucia dos Santos — “My father and my older sisters told us fairy stories about magic spells, and princesses robed in gold and royal doves. Then came along my mother, who told stories of the Passion, St. John the Baptist, and so on… It was enough for me to have heard a story once to be able to repeat it in all its details.”

  20. If common people are in the expectation that they can’t do anything to save themselves, it becomes all too easy to wait for the super hero, the pre-ordained being or the perfect president to rescue them.
    Yes, the Messiah Complex is bad enough. The Messiah Seeking Complex is worse because it brings the Messiah Complex folks around and gives them power. The Constitution was supposed to prevent this……….

    Funny, in most experiences RPing, a lot of the folks I play with have characters with some sort of “had a life, lost everything” background because it gives them an excuse for not staying at home. Even the “I was royalty but was kicked out by the coup” sort don’t use it as a way to get back to royalty, but as a good excuse to go journeying FAR away. They don’t get to rescue people or the world because they are special, usually.

    1. I notice the same thing when playing RPGs. Nearly everyone wanted to be a somebody, once important, fallen on hard times (the “artsier” the player, the more tragic the character). I usually went the other way, and built characters who were (somewhat) normal people that got bored with life so they went adventuring (except for Vampire: the Masquerade. In that one I played a little kid who was turned by a sick bastard and then abandoned. Now THAT was a fun character. Yes, I did put a LOT of points into fighting skills, why do you ask? What’s the point of being a cute little kid if you cant rip people to shreds?)

      1. That character arc, bored peasant to nation’s greatest warrior, is the path followed* by Miyamoto Musashi.


        1. My group played Vamp at least a year, all in one long story line that the Storyteller kept building on. It was awesome! Sadly, it all ended (for me anyway) when I moved from California to Florida (many years ago). I was never able to find a gaming group here in Florida. I tried a few times, but the groups I found were all crappy and their games had a bad vibe (Can’t play with people that I’m not comfortable with).

          Yea… I miss it too.

  21. I’m not sure I’d totally agree on the superhero bit. In the case of Marvel’s heroes you have more relatable, and in many cases flawed people who had the choice to act or not. An example would be Tony Stark/Iron Man… this is a guy who granted is a genius and was born into wealth, but ultimately ends up in trouble through his own actions and often poor decisions. He makes his own villains… But he also does his best to redeem himself by making the right choices. His entire arc is one of accountability and redemption. Steve Rogers/Captain America is a physically frail man that feels an ingrained need to serve, and will always do the right thing. Clint Barton/Hawkeye is an average guy that fights alongside individuals with god-like powers out of loyalty. The examples go on, and on. Unlike DC heroes (a super-powerful alien, a literal goddess, or an insanely ripped Ben Affleck), the Marvel universe is populated with characters that make decisions and then have to be accountable for them. Many of the best arcs are built around the idea of what happens when an individual refuses to take action or accountability.

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