Witches and Bitches, Cyborgs and Assassins: The Ageist Portrayals of Women in Young Adult Cinderella Retellings

The heroines of Cinder by Marissa Meyer and Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, both inspired by canonical Cinderella stories, are active, talented, and intelligent, rejecting the passive, limited roles reserved for the Cinderellas of nineteenth-century European compilations and many adaptations since. Unlike in the canonical versions of the story, the heroines of these novels have the support of some female peers, rejecting the competitive positions the women of past versions have had to take up against one another in order to obtain mates. These representations of femininity are certainly an improvement over those in older tellings of the story, and even some of their contemporaries, such as those in Disney’s 2015 Cinderella.

It’s older women in general and mother figures in particular whose representation suffers in both Cinder and Throne of Glass. Jeanna DelRosso notes that mothers in Disney films are almost always dead and frequently replaced by an evil stepmother or “false” mother; this trend is reflected in these two modern re-tellings. The living older women and mother figures in Cinder range from a bitter, stingy stepmother to a sadistic queen, whereas those in Throne of Glass are feckless or unimportant minor characters.

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