A Critique of “Cinderella” A Story of Sibling Rivalry and Oedipal Conflicts
By Bruno Bettelheim
Bruno Bettelheim is a Freudian Psychologist. This is a psychologist who relates
psychoanalytic theories or practices of Sigmund Freud. In this story he compares sibling
rivalry with the story of “Cinderella”. We all know the story of “Cinderella”, who
stepmother and stepsisters would make her do all the work, cleaning, sewing, everything,
while they would just sit back and make demands of her.
He believes that the mistreatment of Cinderella by her stepmother and stepsister’s were
just plain sibling rivalry. In this instance of course it would be step – sibling rivalry. In
this story he relates to us that many times a child may produce sibling rivalry in their
mind. This comes from his belief that we are not conscious of what goes on in our
unconscious part of the mind. He goes on to say that deep down the child does not really
think they are “Cinderella” but at times when the child is very emotional, they may think
that it is them that is doing all the work with no help.
He goes on to talk of jealousy, a form of sibling rivalry. Perhaps they are jealous of an
older brother or sister, who is very talented at numerous things, sports, school, more
friends. If you try telling the child that some day he will be equally good at all the things,
they won’t believe it. He lacks confidence needed to be dominant over his siblings.
He believes that the child soon starts to think that they deserve to be mistreated. They
deserve to be the slave, because they have no confidence in themselves. Even if they
created it in their mind, or it is truly happening in their family.
I believe a lot has to do with the way the family handles certain situations. Were the
older kids brought up to be very competitive? Has the mother allowed brothers and
sisters to make fun at