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There’s no denying that Cinderella goes through some pretty awful things before her happily ever after. Her father dies; she’s treated like a servant in her own home; Lady Tremaine (her stepmother) seems determined to make sure that Cinderella gets nothing while Anastasia and Drizella (her daughters) get everything. Knowing all of this, it’s surprising when, after receiving the invitation to the royal ball, Lady Tremaine agrees that Cinderella can go, provided she has a suitable dress of course. Even as a child I knew that something horrible was coming, but it never stopped me from being shocked and upset at what happens to poor Cinderella.
As I’ve related earlier, while Cinderella is worked ragged getting her stepsisters ready for the ball, her mice and bird friends work together to brighten up a dress that belonged to Cinderella’s mother. This involves using a sash and necklace that Anastasia and Drizella threw away (but keep in mind Cinderella doesn’t know this). Finally, as the others are leaving for the ball, Cinderella races down the stairs to join them, much to their surprise.
Lady Tremaine is nothing but a woman of her word…but she can’t help pointing out a few of the details on the dress, such as the necklace (which you know she recognized as her daughter’s) saying “These beads, they make just the right touch. Don’t you think so Drizella?”
These words serve as the trigger for the disturbing portion of this scene and I must say for a long time I wasn’t able to watch this part of the film at all. Having gone through a lot of bullying as a child and teenager, seeing Cinderella basically get attacked by her stepsisters brought back a lot of painful memories, as I’m sure it does for a lot of people watching this scene. But getting back to the scene…Drizella is halfway through an insult when she realizes the necklace belonged to her, prompting her to call Cinderella a thief and rip the necklace away. Of course Cinderella doesn’t understand why Drizella is upset, she had no idea the necklace belonged to her. And upon further inspection, Anastasia realizes the sash belonged to her so she rips it away and everything devolves into a frenzy, with the two sisters ripping Cinderella’s dress apart while Lady Tremaine just watches with a smug look on her face. It’s hard to tell what Drizella and Anastasia are saying, but one line has always jumped out at me: just before Lady Tremaine stops the torment, Drizella gets right in Cinderella’s face and yells “You ungrateful little-”
Ungrateful?? This is one of the most delusional lines I’ve ever heard. Cinderella waits on her stepsisters hand and foot and just because she wants to attend the ball in a homemade dress, that makes her ungrateful? Not to mention they’re only living in this beautiful mansion because Lady Tremaine married Cinderella’s father, I suspect the house belongs to Cinderella by right. This is just abuse, plain and simple.
What bugs me also is why Lady Tremaine lets them do this. She could have very easily just told Cinderella “No, you’re not going, I lied” and then left. No, she clearly wants Cinderella to suffer as well for no reason, which really puts her up there with the worst of the Disney villains.
In the end, of course, the dress, her mother’s dress, probably one of the few things of her mother Cinderella has left, is in ruins. Satisfied that her stepdaughter won’t be going anywhere, Lady Tremaine ushers her daughters out and smugly wishes Cinderella “good night.” Even though this directly leads into Cinderella meeting the Fairy Godmother and getting her beautiful gown, I can barely stand to watch this scene for the reasons previously mentioned. It puts you on an emotional roller coaster that is hard to get away from.
What do you think about the scene where Cinderella’s dress is torn apart by her stepsisters? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!
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Disturbing Disney #1: The Coachman in Pinocchio (1940)
Disturbing Disney #2: The truth of Pleasure Island in Pinocchio (1940)
Disturbing Disney #3: Escaping Monstro from Pinocchio (1940)
Disturbing Disney #4: Dumbo loses his mother (1941)
Disturbing Disney #5 The death of Bambi’s Mother
Disturbing Disney #6: Faline vs. the dogs (1942)
Disturbing Disney #7: Cruella wants to do WHAT??
Disturbing Disney #8: The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met (from Make Mine Music, 1946)
Disturbing Disney #9: Dr. Facilier’s Fate (The Princess and the Frog, 2009)
Disturbing Disney #10: The rat in Lady and the Tramp (1955)
Disturbing Disney #11: Clayton’s Death in Tarzan (1999)
Disturbing Disney #12: The Bear from The Fox and the Hound (1981)
Disturbing Disney #13: “Smoking them out” in The Fox and the Hound (1981)
Disturbing Disney #14: The Salt Trap in The Jungle Book (1994)
Disturbing Disney #15: Night on Bald Mountain from Fantasia (1940)
Disturbing Disney #16: King Triton destroys Ariel’s grotto
Disturbing Disney #17: Ratigan becomes a monster in The Great Mouse Detective
Disturbing Disney #18: The Queen’s assignment for her Huntsman
Disturbing Disney #20: Quasimodo is crowned ‘King of Fools’ (1996)