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Cinderella: Not So Morally Superior by Elisabeth Panttaja - Article Example

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As the paper states, in Elisabeth Panttaja’s essay, “Cinderella: Not So Morally Superior”, she argued that Cinderella wasn’t really an orphan. She says that the magical tree that helped Cinderella deal with her trials was actually her magically-represented mother…
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Cinderella: Not So Morally Superior by Elisabeth Panttaja
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Cinderella was not the moral, goody-two-shoes protagonist that she is portrayed as. Like her stepsisters, she is scheming (“she plots, she schemes and she wins”, Panttaja, 1993, p. 645) and she uses magic to lure the prince into marrying her. Panttaja’s essay is out to convince the readers about her uncanny interpretation of the Cinderella story. This paper offers to rhetorically analyze the essay in order to confirm if it was indeed successful in letting the readers understand what the author is trying to convey. Because of Panttaja’s manner of convincing the readers into agreeing with her points by using ethos, pathos, and logos, this essay is quite successful especially for her intended audience, who are, theoretically, literature students who understand literary analysis and Freudian interpretations. Body Panttaja’s essay is successful because of her effective use of the elements of a good argumentative essay: ethos, pathos, and logos. True, not everyone would have agreed to the fact that Cinderella was more or less like her evil stepsisters, especially in the scheming and winning department, but after reading the essay, you somehow agree. This is because Panttajja has addressed ethos, pathos, and logos. The ethos part of the essay, the one which addresses the “ethical nature of the person making the appeal” (Behrens and Rosen, 2008, p.151), is used well. Of course, Panttaja does not blatantly tell the reader in the body of the essay that she is an expert in Freudian analysis, but reading the brief analysis before the essay validates her claims, as it states she is a professor at Tufts University and it is indeed a Freudian analysis. If the readers have overlooked this, they may as well discover for themselves through research after reading the essay (as I did), because the reader would have his curiosity piqued regarding the author’s authority, background and knowledge for these claims to be valid. The author also writes with an authoritative tone that convinces the reader that the writer is quite knowledgeable. The author also addresses the emotions (or pathos) element, although quite subtle. Her emotionality does not trigger sympathy for the protagonist, but rather a sense of indignation. She presents her essay in a manner that would shake your previous (usually childhood) beliefs about the fairy tale, and it can seem rather traitorous for Cinderella and her mother to be THAT cunning. Even the fact that she has a mother makes the reader question about the sympathies he has with Cinderella. In effect, the reader ends up sympathizing with the stepsisters because they are treated cruelly (especially since the author mentioned that the prince was enchanted “with the sight of her in her magical clothes… Cinderella’s clothes are indeed miraculous since they turn a deformed girl into a woman whose beauty surpasses the already fair,” (Panttaja, 1993, p.646); and appear innocent as they are only acting on their mother’s orders. These pathos elements cause the reader to detest Cinderella and it does trigger an emotional change in the reader. Lastly, the logos element in the story is also quite successful and is very strong. The essay itself is quite logical. It starts with the assumption that the magical tree is Cinderella’s mother and proceeds to enumerate the tree’s protective maternal behavior and then provides a claim that the tree is indeed the mother. Another logical element of the essay is that it compares the immorality of the mother-magical tree’s actions for protecting and advancing her daughter’s interests with the stepmother’s immoral actions. First, it starts with a claim that the mother is indeed evil, by using insubordination and uses magic powers and at the same time lies and deceit (Panttaja, 1993). It then progresses to claim that the evil stepmother and the magical tree are basically sharing the same face. To top it all, the title of the essay, “Cinderella: Not So Morally Superior”, is in itself a claim and all the reasons in the body of the essay are evidence/assumptions that would reinforce the claim! The essay is quite successful in presenting its argument logically. Conclusion The Cinderella story is a widely popular story, and it is loved by many people, especially children. However, this Freudian interpretation changes all the significance of Cinderella’s suffering. Before, it has been taught that Cinderella’s determination, patience and being good-natured was rewarded by such good luck, such as being married to a prince. The whole romance about good triumphing over evil is well presented within this story. With this essay, Cinderella’s luck is now credited to deceit, magic, and violence. It is cynical, it is violent and it is certainly dark. It makes us question if this story, with its dark subconscious messages, should be told to young children. It makes you wonder about the underlying messages of the Cinderella story. I agree to the points that Panttaja claims about the magical tree, being an equally evil mother, as the stepmother, she is quite a successful author and uses the elements of ethos, pathos, and logos quite effectively. Read More
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