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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Alternative Interpretations

The question of right and wrong came up in my mind and I did not know for sure. I was wondering about the story of Cinderella. What is it that makes us feel that something is right or even wrong for that matter. Do we identify ourselves in the character's shoes and live and breathe their aspirations and goals, feel their pain in failure? In other words, when something is painful to the main character it comes across as "wrong" to us. When the step-mother does not give Cinderella an opportunity to dress for the ball, we strongly feel that the situation is unfair because it is going against the protagonist's wish or at some level our own wish. We identify with her as she does not give up and still keeps her hope alive. She has a positive attitude and does her work at hand with sincerity. She is very happy when the mice help her put together a frilly dress that is almost good enough to wear to the ball. She gets ready just in time to join her step-family with excitement and anticipation for the upcoming royal party. But her exuberance is shattered to pieces when her "sisters" pull and tear her dress and reduce it to rags. At this point, we all know how hard it is to keep up hope. Accordingly , we see Cinderella, running to the garden and hiding her face in the bench and crying her heart out. Feeling sorry for oneself is but a spontaneous human emotion. In today's world we know that it is a very unfruitful and negative attitude to a situation. Should she have fought back and hurt her sisters and prevented them from going to the ball ? That did not seem to be the right action for her personality. Even though she does nothing to protest she does have very strong feelings about visiting the castle. When the carriage leaves the house with her step-mother and step-sisters, she is in no position to motivate herself any further than wait for "divine" interventions. This is because in the midst of all the damage when nothing seemed to go right, her wish still lived in her heart and the trust that this cannot happen to her. That the final outcome had to be fair is a very deep seated inherent knowledge. We determine right and wrong based on empirical rules, examples over time of what action entails which desirable or undesirable outcomes. In very simple terms, it is most probably approximations of how or how not the real world operates. It might be that the apparent mismatch with conviction and reality was tormenting and confusing the very human Cinderella and even led her to inaction. Well apparently, "inaction" is not so bad sometimes. It can lead to wonderful things, way beyond our imagination. We can all "enjoy" loosing control when there is total trust and submission in something beyond our own circle of influence. And then we live "happily ever after" at the end.

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