When I hear the word fairy-tale, the first one that comes to my mind is Cinderella. It is also undoubtedly my absolute favourite. I have seen countless cinematic versions of Cinderella including Disney productions and other movies that are inspired from it. Cinderella was originally written by Charles Perrault in French in 1697 and is such an old tale, but even today holds the charm and power to captivate the audience. What is it about this story that continues to fascinate and intrigue people even after centuries? I think it’s the plot of an unfortunate girl who suddenly gets everything that a young girl could dream of. It is romantic, exciting, magical and such a feel good story. Indubitably the limelight is always on Cinderella but I have often wondered, what was the back story of the antagonist Lady Tremaine, better known as Cinderella’s stepmother? Was she always this evil? Cinderella was ill-treated by her step mother and step sisters but were they all bad?
I often ponder about these characters that are portrayed in a uni-dimensional manner and painted totally black or white, but I think the world is shades of grey and the story of Cinderella too must evolve to be relevant in a contemporary world. So using my imagination I have written a prologue for Cinderella where for once the point of view is of Cinderella’s step mother. So get set to get into the mind and life of one of the oldest and most popular antagonist of all times- Lady Tremaine.
I was very happy. My twin daughters Anastasia and Drizella were the apple of my eye, my husband was a wonderful man who loved us dearly and we were a complete family. I don’t know why God became unkind and my happiness was overshadowed by clouds of grief. My dear husband passed away and as his widow, I was left with a meagre amount of money which barely kept us afloat.
With my daughters growing and the expenses increasing, I had no choice but to consider remarriage to a wealthy widower. A widow with two grown daughters had few options but I had beauty to barter and so I began to socialise and was introduced to Lord Tremaine, a kind, gentle, well-to-do widower who had a daughter named Ella.
He had a steady income, a large estate and no son which was even more convenient, and a daughter who was the same age as my Anastasia and Drizella. It was an ideal arrangement, so when he proposed, I said yes. We were married in a small and peaceful ceremony in the beautiful town church and I along with my two precious daughters shifted in with the Tremaine family.
All was well, my new husband was kind and attentive, my step daughter was polite and well-behaved, the staff respected me and I accepted Ella as my own daughter and the estate as my own home. My heart went out to poor Ella who had lost her mother and had to become the lady of the house and take responsibilities at such a young age. She was also very beautiful and that made me anxious for my daughters, who paled in comparison to her beauty, skills and manners but I vowed to put away any hard feelings and opened my heart to accept her as my own daughter.
At last I felt that life was being kind to me again until one evening, when I heard Anastasia sobbing. I stood at the door, perplexed and worried. I almost entered the room out of concern when I heard Anastasia tell Drizella that she was upset because of Ella. Anastasia had found Ella’s diary, where she had written that she was upset with her father marrying again and wrote that she was happy living with her father alone. She did not want me to take the place of her mother and dearly wished to tell this to her father but was afraid of upsetting him and so she pretended to be happy while actually she was sad and extremely upset. She tried to accept us but said she found it too hard to truly love us as her family.
I was shocked to hear this and deeply hurt by Ella’s confession. I had always treated Ella fairly, while truly letting go of any resentments and accepting her as my daughter, but sadly she had not been able to accept us as her family and maybe never would in the future.
Grief and pain seared my bosom. I had given my new family all my love and had tried my best to fulfill all my duties as a wife and mother. What Ella had done was unkind and ungrateful. All the pain and hurt soon transcended to resentment and seething anger and from that day I vowed to show Ella what a wonderful stepmother I could be. I would most certainly begin by showing Ella that when I wanted to be good, I was good but when I want to be bad, I can be vicious!