In the article “Cinderella”: A Story of Sibling Rivalry and Oedipal Conflicts,” Bruno Bettelheim claims that the oedipal guilt and oedipal conflicts present within the story of “Cinderella” are critical to a child’s unsatisfied thoughts and feelings; this is why children identify strongly with this fairy tale. In his argument, Bettelheim uses anecdotal evidence to prove his statement. For example, a mother tells her five-year-old daughter to grab some salt, and the daughter acts out because she feels that she is given all the hard work. The daughter then proposes the idea of her sibling(s) and her mother being jealous of her because of her looks. This is the child’s state of mind at the end of the oedipal period.
Bettelheim develops his argument through stating ways oedipal conflict and oedipal guilt appear in a child’s mind. Bettelheim implies that oedipal conflict is when the child is not feeling loved by the parents and have to obey everything the parent tells them to do. Therefore, Bettelheim believes that children realize their desire to get their way is not going to happen, and this is what causes dirty thoughts to appear in their mind.
Oedipal guilt is how a child is feeling after those dirty thoughts. Bettelheim states that when the child always has to follow demands, their thoughts become bad and they wish to get rid of one of the parents, and still another reason to feel guilty about feeling that way. Bettelheim fails to mention that all children do not feel this way or have any dirty thoughts about one of their parents. His assumption weakens this argument because he does not recognize the reasonable medium between all the children’s feelings and the other possible thoughts that could occur in their minds.