While I consider myself a fairy-tale connoisseur, I have never been drawn to the story of Cinderella. I never considered the reason until yesterday.

Cinderella is a passive character. She reacts to what goes on around her, but never starts anything. Her stepmother tells her to become a servant: she becomes a servant. Stepmother tells her to stay home from the ball: she stays home. Her fairy godmother tells her to go to the ball: she goes to the ball. The most proactive thing she does is lose her shoe, and that was an accident. Many retellings try to make her spunky, but that falls flat when Cinderella is only spunky when her stepfamily isn’t around. The closest I’ve seen to an active Cinderella is Ever After. Danielle has moments of proactivity, but she still allows herself to be victimized.

Because Cinderella is so passive, the writer has to find a way to make the audience like her that is not based on Cinderella’s actions. The answer writers come up with is: get the reader to pity Cinderella. They caricature the stepfamily, make them so “evil” that no one could possibly like them. For me, this has the opposite effect than writers intend: I get annoyed with Cinderella for being so passive, and annoyed with the writer for creating an obnoxious and unrealistic villain. How many people base their actions around making one person miserable? People are cruel to others when they believe that they will get what they desire due to their cruelty. Villains are people, just like protagonists. If their actions are unmotivated, why be afraid of them? Eventually, they will get bored and antagonize someone else.

Perhaps I will one day write a retelling where Cinderella is proactive. I’m not sure how–it would take a lot of reworking of the story–but I’m sure it’s possible. Perhaps I’ll add it to the set of fairy-tale and myth novellas I’m working on now.


Post-Grad and Goals for the New Year

I have officially completed the requirements and received my bachelor’s degree of English (Okay, full disclosure: I received my degree a month ago, and just never got around to writing about it until now). My college career is over, and now I can do whatever I want. I can start my life over and be whomever I want. That opens up several possibilities, and gives me so much freedom. I can stay in the States, I can travel abroad for a few years, I can move to Europe (or wherever else I deem appropriate). I can go into event coordinating, publishing, teaching ESL (if I get certification), or whatever else I decide to do. It is, however, also terrifying. In the next year, I will be creating myself. What if I make someone that I don’t like? What if I get stuck in a place or career that I can’t stand, but can’t seem to leave? What if I can never find a good job (no one has offered to hire me yet)? What if I’m too afraid to take any chances? I’ve never been known for my bravery (though, if I’m re-creating myself, perhaps someday I can be).

Let’s examine the options. Continue reading

Jane Eyre: The First Fourteen Chapters

My friend RJ and I have decided that this year, we will encourage each other to stay diligent in our studies by reading together. Our first book is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. Yesterday was our deadline for the first fourteen chapters. At first, I was cautious: though I love classic literature, I am not fond of Wuthering Heights, and I was unsure if my dislike would apply to all Brontë novels. However, once past the first ten chapters or so, I was able to really get into the story.

The first few chapters, which focus on Jane Eyre’s childhood, were not enjoyable for me. I like novels that start right before the action, giving the reader just enough background information to know what is happening. I was also annoyed with child Jane, who, while mistreated, was whiny and self-pitying. The poor, mistreated child is a common protagonist, and I’m a bit sick of it (though, as RJ pointed out, Brontë was probably one of the first to use this type of character. Now, however, it has become the staple of YA literature). For me, the novel doesn’t really begin until Jane reaches Thornfield Hall.

As soon as Eyre arrives at Thornfield, the novel gets interesting. There is strange laughter in the attic, an adorable French child (who, while being entertaining, also helps me work on my French), and the mysterious Mr. Rochester. Things are happening, and Jane is learning and changing.

Mr. Rochester, thus far, is a character who I like very much. He is the type of person I was friends with in high school. While being rude and having rather extreme shifts in mood, he is hilarious and imaginative.

As to the piece as a whole, there are both things I like and things that I despise. I love that Jane is unattractive, as is Rochester. Attractive heroes are the norm, and so less than beautiful protagonists tend to make me uncomfortable for the first few moments (for various reasons, including, but not limited to, suspicion of what the author is going to do to balance the character), but once I am used to the character, I like it. I dislike, however, Jane’s constant asides to the audience. “Don’t talk to the audience!” I mentally scream. “The fourth wall is there, I promise!”

Overall, I am thus far intrigued by the novel, and I am looking forward to the rest. I have a few theories on what will happen/be revealed, and I can’t wait to see if I am right.

You can read RJ’s blog, including her Jane Eyre post, here.