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The story of Cinderella is a magical fairy tale that children of all ages and backgrounds are familiar with. It’s an enticing tale since it includes magic and whimsy, oppression, love, perseverance- all of the important things that are consisted of in the story of a hero, or in this case, a heroine. As John Campbell explains in his book, _ The Hero with a Thousand Faces, _ a hero (or heroine) goes through many phases on their quest for whatever it is they are trying to find in life, and Cinderella is no various.
She experiences all of the stages on her mission for love and happiness.
At the start of the story, Cinderella is the precious daughter of a wealthy guy, leading a pleased, normal life. However, as all heroic journeys begin, according to Campbell, so must this one, with “A blunder-apparently the merest chance-reveals an unsuspected world, and the individual is drawn into a relationship with forces that are not rightly understood” (Campbell 42).
For Cinderella, the mistake is her dad’s unfortunate death that leaves her under the control of her evil stepmother and stepsisters who, jealous of her charm, keep her restricted to the estate and treat her as a servant.
Campbell states: “The very first stage of the mythological journey-which we have designated the “call to experience”-signifies that destiny has actually summoned the hero and moved his spiritual center of gravity from within the pale of his society to a zone unidentified” (Campbell p. 48). Cinderella’s call to adventure can be found in the kind of an invite, or summons, to the royal ball, from the castle with the intentions of discovering a wife for the prince.
Cinderella has actually invested hours day-dreaming of an opportunity like this, and excited to go, strikes a handle her stepmother: if she can complete all her tasks on time, she can go.
It’s at this point in the story where we fulfill the first of Cinderella’s mentors, or supernatural aid, her animal buddies. Due to the fact that Cinderella is busy attempting to finish her tasks, she doesn’t have time to prepare anything to use to the ball. The animals intervene and create a lovely dress for her, utilizing items tossed away by the unsightly relatives.
The next stage in our heroine’s journey is the refusal of the call. Campbell says “Refusal of the summons converts the adventure into its negative” (Campbell 49), and we see this happen in Cinderella’s case when her stepmother and evil stepsisters snatch the call away from her by destroying her ball gown. At this point Cinderella is left feeling hopeless and defeated, and what was a positive, exciting opportunity, is now a crushed dream. It’s here though that we meet another mentor, or again, supernatural aid, Cinderella’s fairy Godmother, who “appears and provides her with everything she needs to attend the ball” (_The Hero’s Journey: Cinderella)._ Cinderella is now able to accept the call, and progress on her journey.
Next we see Cinderella arrive at the royal ball, signifying yet another stage of her journey: crossing the threshold. According to one source, “Once the hero has accepted the call, they have to cross from their old world to the new. This crossing is made at the Threshold.” (Langdon: _”What is Crossing the Threshold?_”) Cinderella begins crossing her threshold when her fairy Godmother equips her for the ball, and finishes crossing then she enters the ball; we see the transformation from a servant into the beautiful, mysterious guest.
All good heroic journeys have tests, evil to contend with and danger to avoid, and Cinderella is no different. While she spends the evening dancing in the arms of the prince, she isn’t able to tell him who she is at the ball, and she must leave by the twelfth stroke of midnight when the magic wears off. In addition, when the price sends his servant to find the owner of the glass slipper left at the ball by Cinderella, she watches hopelessly while her sisters try to cram their feet into it. I believe these events are what make the Belly of the Whale for Cinderella, for according to Campbell, it’s at this point “The hero, instead of conquering or conciliating the power of the threshold, is swallowed into the unknown, and would appear to have died” (Campbell 74).
The union of opposites, which Campbell describes as Apotheosis, takes place when Cinderella is discovered to be the owner of the glass slipper and is taken to the palace to join the prince, as his wife. She completes her quest to find love and happiness when she marries the prince. It’s at this point, that Cinderella is officially seen as the heroine; “this godlike being is a pattern of the divine state to which the human hero attains who has gone beyond the last terrors of ignorance…This is the release potential within us all…” (Campbell 127). She made it through the hero’s journey, all its various stages, successfully, and is transformed from a parentless, sad, young woman into the heroine living out her dream.
Campbell, Joseph. _The Hero with a Thousand Faces_. Novato: New World Library, 2008. Print.
_The Hero’s Journey:Cinderella._ Web. 5 Sept. 2014.
Langdon, Matt. _What is Crossing the Threshold?._ The Hero Handbook. 15 Nov. 2010. Web. 5 Sept. 2014.
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