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Cindella: Sibling Rivalry and Oedipal Conflicts

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Bruno Bettelheim believes that the fairy tale Cinderella has a deeper meaning than what meets the eye. He shares his beliefs in his essay, “Cinderella: A Story of Sibling Rivalry and Oedipal Conflict” in which Bettelheim explains the underlying complexity of the story Cinderella. Being a Freudian psychologist, Bettelheim believes that a person’s conscious mind takes the fairy tale for face value while the same person’s unconscious mind understands the same fairy tale completely different. The conscious and unconscious minds have a tendency to relate to fairy tale character but in entirely different ways, especially a child’s minds. Bettelheim presumes that at some point in every child’s life they will relate and feel like they are Cinderella. He thinks that Cinderella is a way for a child to be able to handle conscious and unconscious issues they are going to face, such as sibling rivalry and different stages of the Oedipal conflicts. Bettelheim goes on to tell the reader different emotions a child feels through out his or her life and how Cinderella helps them deal with these unpleasant feelings towards the child’s parents and siblings. The child sees hope in fairy tales, that someday they will be rescued from their current situation just like Cinderella.

In his essay, Bruno Bettelheim tells the reader that all children can relate to Cinderella on the level of Sibling Rivalry and Oedipal conflicts. The Sibling Rivalry part of Bethlehem’s essay has some truth value to it because at one time in there life a child "feels hopelessly outclassed by his brothers and sisters"(628) just like “Cinderella is pushed down and degraded by her stepsisters” (629). But Bettelheim takes his analysis of Cinderella a little too far when he describes how every child goes through a Oedipal stage and is attracted to the opposite sex parent. Making claims that all things expressed in this essay are a universal feeling, Bettelheim tries to prove his point that sibling rivalry and Oedipal conflicts are natural feelings, truth be told that sibling rivalry is common among youngsters but the Oedipal conflicts are less mutual.

Fairy tales give children reassurance that they will live happily ever after no matter how bad life gets within a family. A child does connect with fictional characters on many different levels. As “Exaggerated [that] ... Cinderella’s tribulations and degradations may seem to [an] adult”

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