Here’s a weird thought. Have you ever had that moment when someone makes it clear that although you’ve been admitted, it does not mean you’ve been accepted? It made me think about Cinderella.
After Cinderella was found by the prince and then he married her, what happened next? She was, for all intents and purposes, a scullery maid who spent the better part of her life subservient to others. She may have been beautiful and good, but was she ready for a world that was not her own?
It turns out there are many versions of this story as far back as Ancient Greece and exist outside of Europe. The story is essentially the same, with a widower and father remarrying a woman with daughters of her own who supplant the widower’s daughter. She, in turn is mistreated and maligned until a prince comes with some footwear from the lost and found and takes her as his wife. Happily ever after ensues.
Or does it? A mysterious woman captures the prince’s imagination (and allegedly his heart) and he marries her into a royal household. Do they accept her? I keep thinking of Lady Catherine de Bourgh and her speech to Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice:
“…for do not expect to be noticed by his family or friends, if you willfully act against the inclinations of all. You will be slighted, and despised, by everyone connected with him. Your alliance will be a disgrace; your name will never even be mentioned by any of us.”
Was such a speech given to Cinderella when she first arrived at the palace? I’d like to think she was able to push back as Lizzy Bennet did, but Cinderella’s story was all about how good and compliant she was—not a firebrand. Did she accept her new lot—the same as her old one with better clothes—just as passively?
We’ll never know what happily ever after looked like to Cinderella and her prince; we can only speculate. My only hope is that when any of us is confronted with situations in which we’re admitted, but not accepted we can say as calmly and coolly as Lizzy Bennet:
“I am only resolved to act in that manner, which will, in my own opinion, constitute my happiness, without reference to you, or to any person so wholly unconnected with me.”