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A Critique Of “ ‘Cinderella’ : A Story Of Sibling Rivalry And Oedipal Conflicts By Bruno Bettelheim

1771 words - 7 pages

Most children experience agony and hope as they face the struggles of sibling rivalry throughout their childhood. This situation has been experienced by children, of whom may or may not have siblings, for hundreds of years. Several stories represent this crisis, including the Biblical story of Abel and Cain which was written over 3000 years ago. Abel of whom was forced to be Cain’s ash-brother. Cain had developed an intense feeling of jealousy of Abel when his offering to the Lord was rejected while Abel’s was accepted. This caused him great agony, but he wasn’t the only one. The fairytale “Cinderella” encompases the ideas of sibling rivalry as well as the agonies and hopes that correspond with it.

In the essay: “ ‘Cinderella’: A Story of Sibling Rivalry and Oedipal Conflicts”’, Bruno Bettelheim discusses how Cinderella is a story about the difficulties of sibling rivalry and the degraded heroine ending up on top of the siblings that oppressed her. Bettelheim argues that sibling rivalry is created when a child feels that they cannot win their parents love and esteem in comparison to his brothers or sisters. In addition he argues that every child feels that they deserve to be degraded at some point in their life. The concept of Oedipal guilt, his last point, has some intriguing details included in it, concepts of which could be disputed. However, the main focus of this essay is on how children justify the idea that they should be degraded, and because of the hardships they have faced, risen up and exalted like Cinderella was. He states that Cinderella relates very closely to the youth because they feel like they can relate to her situation more than the majority of people could.

In his essay Bettelheim quickly asserts that sibling rivalry and the Cinderella myth are connected when he states that: “ No other fairytale renders so well as the ‘Cinderella’ stories the inner experiences of the young child in the throes of sibling rivalry, when he feels hopelessly outclasses by his brothers and sisters.” CITE This is because Cinderella was pushed down and degraded, forced to do the hardest work, and received no credit for it. This is how most children feel they are treated, even if they are given miniscule work to do. They may feel this way because of sibling rivalry - jealousy, competition, or fighting between siblings. The child may believe that his or her sibling(s) have some sort of advantage over him or that their parents favor their other children over him; this belief may lead the child to think that his parents give him the hardest work because they favor his other siblings.

However, Bettelheim states that sibling rivalry is caused by the child's feelings about how their parents think of them instead of how their siblings think of them. He proposes that this is because when a child fears that he is thought little of by his parents compared to his siblings he may feel rejected. This causes the child to become jealous toward his other...

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