Another Look at Cinderella: Powers of the Humanistic Conscience in a Fairytale Medium

Topics: Authority, Political philosophy, Family Pages: 4 (1464 words) Published: September 24, 2009
“Ashputtle”, a cousin story to the famous Cinderella written by Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm, is a fairytale about a young woman whose mother dies and whose father remarries an oppressive woman dubbed “stepmother” whom Fromm would characterise as an irrational authoritaty figure. Ashputtle, following her humanistic conscience, after a series of events finds herself in a position to start her life anew with the handsome prince of the land. There are several key relationships in “Ashputtle” that play different roles from a psychoanalysis standpoint. These relationships show authoritative characteristics that demonstrate the difference between the rational and irrational authoritative conscience and humanistic conscience, ultimately showing that in Ashputtle – a story characterising morals for a younger generations – those with a strong humanistic conscience will dominate over those with a weak humanistic conscience. If we examine the individual successes of the father, stepsisters, and Ashputtle, it will become apparent that the differences between their lives proceed from the varying strength of their humanistic conscience. Erich Fromm identifies two types of conscience, the authoritarian and the humanistic. The authoritarian conscience comes from the will of an authority figure that we either admire or are afraid of displeasing (Fromm 404). The authoritarian conscience is similar to the Super Ego; the rules enforced by the father and accepted by the son out of fear (Alper 313, Fromm 402). The authoritarian conscience requires complete obedience; by obeying another person, one loses the ability to rebel. Listening to this conscience is the submission to the authority’s power to govern and to punish to the extent that they see fit. Furthermore, there are two types of authority: rational and irrational authority. Rational authority refers to the relationship between teacher and student where either both succeed or both fail. Irrational authority is the relationship...
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