In “The Lady’s Maid,” by Katherine Mansfield, the narrator and maid is named Ellen. (Name similarity?) She, much like Cinderella, is loyal and quiet in performing her daily duties. Ellen is also searching for something to complete her life. But several incidents in Ellen’s life contribute to her un-Cinderella-like ending, including the fact that she does not have a mythical figure to help her out. These scenes, which are shown through Ellen’s responses to interactions with characters around her, prove Ellen to be a very complex character. Both Ellen and Cinderella experience sadness from childhood experiences and devotion to the ladies that they serve, but whereas Cinderella overcomes her problems in the end and finds happiness, Ellen carries her emotions so deeply that she cannot break free from her enslaved life.
When comparing Cinderella and Ellen, a their childhoods are obviously similar in many respects. Both the girls lack a constant loving home and a strong mother figure. Losing a parent at a young age is distressing to Cinderella in much the same way as it is for Ellen. Because the girls were never close with their parents because of death, they never developed the ties of loving mother-daughter relationships. Cinderella worked for her stepmother at a very young age, and after Ellen lived with her grandfather and an aunt, she was sent to work as a maid at age thirteen. The shuffling of parental figures for both Cinderella and Ellen causes them intense emotional trauma and likely triggers feelings of guilt for the loss of their parents. Cinderella and Ellen spend their days devoting much time and attention to those people in their lives who do give them attention. Because they never feel the true love that a parent can give, they mistake the orders from the old ladies as parental love. The maternal instincts that these girls both feel are similar, because they are struggling with the lack of parental influence and consequently cope by devoting their...
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