The article I'm talking about had some odd things to say in regard to Cinderella, which I think I must have understood poorly, because it didn't make a whole lot of sense, but this is how I read it. It mentioned all the "male Cinderellas" that show up in the Grimm fairy tale collection--youngest sons who are looked down on by the rest of their family, but go on to find riches or whatever--and said, if I remember correctly, that none of them were unhappy with their lot in life before. It seemed to be contrasting this with Cinderella herself, implying that Cinderella was unhappy with her situation.
So, based on this article, as well as the portrayal of Cinderella in Once Upon A Time, it seems that the general (uninformed) opinion of the character is that she sits around whining about how she has to do housework and waiting for somebody to come fix everything for her. I always thought the problem people had with Cinderella was that if her life was so terrible, why didn't she run away or something?, but I'm starting to think that people see her problems as trivial or something.
Of course this all brings me to last night, when we watched Cinderella, as mentioned above. I probably would have had a similar rant even without watching the Disney movie, but since we had just gotten it in the mail, I figured we might as well check our facts before ranting, and it gave us some handy details we wouldn't have remembered. Still, it is pretty much a rant, so again, I'm not sure how coherent it will be.
First of all, Cinderella's life wasn't bad just because she had to do chores. Because her stepmother squandered her father's fortune, all the people who were hired to maintain their giant estate had to be let go, and she was basically the only one left to do anything, because obviously Lady Tremaine wasn't going to make her daughters do it. So she was the cook, the maid, the butler, the gardener, the washerwoman, the...um...she mended all the clothes, and she took care of all the animals--including a very evil cat, a dog, a horse, and chickens. On top of that, she suffered verbal abuse from her stepmother and physical abuse from her stepsisters (the best example can be seen in the scene where Anastasia and Drizella tear her dress apart).
So yeah, pretty terrible. Why didn't she do anything to fix it? Well, as a lazy person myself, I know how easy it is to get distracted by busyness, of which she had plenty. On top of that, the chateau was probably the only home she knew, and she most likely had fond memories of her father and mother there, so nostalgia might have played a factor. And she clearly didn't have any friends outside the chateau, because nobody recognized her at the ball except Lady Tremaine. And if she'd had any distant relatives to help her out (leaving the godmother out for now), Lady Tremaine probably would have shipped her off long ago.
Still, she wasn't completely complacent about the whole thing. When the decree came announcing the ball, she stood up to Lady Tremaine and said, "I get to go, too, right?" And Lady Tremaine said, "Oh, don't be ridiculous," and she stood her ground and said, "No, seriously. You'll be breaking the law if you don't let me go." So Lady Tremaine gave her a million more chores to do on top of the extra work she'd already been assigned because the evil cat chased a mouse under Anastasia's cup and Cinderella took the blame. She may or may not have managed to finish all the work, but that fact remains unconfirmed. Lady Tremaine probably wouldn't have checked, anyway, but because Cinderella is a good person with a good sense of responsibility as well as integrity (and probably because she realized that if she missed the one chore Lady Tremaine happened to check on things would be reeeeally bad), she did her work before making her dress. I think this also shows that she has the presence of mind and sense of priorities to not waste valuable time on herself when there are other things that need doing.
So she didn't make her own dress, which I guess could be considered passive and having everybody wait on her, but really? Really? She had more work to do in one day than you can possibly do in 48 hours! Sarah's husband and in-laws would all do their chores maintaining their one-acre home every Saturday, and all eight of them together took all day to do it. Cinderella had to do it all by herself. Of course she doesn't have time to make a dress!
But thanks to her winning personality and kindness, she had a bunch of household pest friends to make a dress for her. And it wasn't until her stepsisters literally tore apart her last ray of hope that she started whining about how terrible her life was. That was after years of patiently and optimistically putting up with all that other crap, convincing herself that she'd have to do without again (she didn't think she'd get to go to the ball), finding out yay! she can go!, and then finding out wait just kidding. That's enough to get just about anyone to start yelling at the sky. And she did, even. There was a chorus that sang to her that if she just kept believing... and she was like, "No, I can't! There's nothing to believe in!"
That's when the fairy godmother finally showed up and said, "But if you really didn't believe, I wouldn't be here." It does make me wonder where she'd been up until that point, but obviously she was waiting to show up in the darkest hour; it's a hero thing. But it's important to note that she was only able to help Cinderella because Cinderella had faith that things would get better--not because Cinderella was despairing.
It's also true that Cinderella got locked in the tower after that and had to be rescued by two male mice...oh wait, she also needed help from the dog, but she was the one to think of getting the dog, so she did play some part in her own rescue.
I also want to point out that she actually did have enough of a presence to stand out, even in rags. The article that has us so upset said that she was so lacking in personality that all she had to do was put on rags to disappear completely, but that's not true at all. When the Grand Duke was at their home trying the slipper on people, he was dying to just get it over with and get away from those crazy people, but she showed up on the stairs, and despite his fatigue and wanting to go home to bed, he saw her and smiled. This was either because he recognized her from the ball (meaning the rags didn't completely disguise her), or because even if he didn't, she was noticeably a breath of fresh air compared to her stepsisters. In fact, there's a lyric in the opening song that says, "Even dressed in rags, you wear an air of queenly grace," which indicates that even if she does disappear into her rags, the movie itself doesn't want you to think that.
Whew, I think that covers everything. Short version: Cinderella's more awesome than these people seem to claim.
Today I'm thankful for getting to watch Cinderella, the fancy way Fresh & Easy starting molding its sugar cookie dough, successfully getting our laundry done, getting to read some of our storybooks last night, and getting to eat sugar cookies.