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The Liminal Period in the Cinderella Fairy Tale

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  1. Introduction
  2. Cinderella's lack of social state
  3. The change in her life
  4. The extreme passivity of Cinderella
  5. The transmission of knowledge from instructor to initiand
  6. Conclusion
  7. Works cited

In ?The Little Glass Slipper?, Cinderella is undergoing what anthropologist Victor Turner, in his theory regarding rites de passage, would regard as a transitional period between being a girl under the protection of her mother and a woman under the protection of a husband. During this transitional, or liminal, state, Cinderella is prepared for her new role by a series of instructors so that she may become what her culture views as an ideal wife. She is first instructed by her stepfamily, which teaches her through forced labor and maltreatment to become the ideal passive, hard working, domestic housewife. Once this training is complete, Cinderella's Fairy Godmother further transforms Cinderella into the other womanly ideal, that of the pure, beautiful, desirable socialite.

[...] As well as the necessity of communicating the sacra, the Fairy Godmother waits until this point to transform Cinderella the final time because only once the Prince promises marriage has she proven that she has the abilities and attributes required of her new role as a princess. If the Fairy Godmother had given Cinderella a stable form sooner, before she had completed this final part of the liminal stage, then she may not have been able to marry the Prince, and therefore would not have aggregated. [...]

[...] In this context, it is difficult to accept the Fairy Godmother as simply a savior or guardian as she is often viewed, for a guardian spirit would be remiss to allow Cinderella to suffer for so long a time without lending any assistance. With this in mind, and taking into account the extreme power that she holds over Cinderella by mandating her timely exit from the ball with magic, it is clear that the Fairy Godmother is another instructor. Her purpose is to shape Cinderella into the other womanly ideal of the time, that of a creature of surpassing grace and beauty. [...]

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