One day, feminist ideology will finally be revealed for what it is: no longer the fairest of them all.
Carrie Gress, Ph.D.
Snow White, Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty; these are the stories that have animated the imaginations of little girls for centuries. Popularized by Disney, different versions of these stories, particularly Cinderella, have crossed the divides of cultures and time throughout much of history.
All of these fairy tales follow a particular story pattern. There is generally an older woman — a mother, witch, or queen, who relishes her position as top cat, and then some upstart comes along and threatens her prized place as “fairest of them all.” The young maiden must, at all costs, be stopped. And from there the fairy tales unfold into a common ending: things don’t go well for the old hag and the young maiden and her prince live happily ever after.
There are many lessons that can be extracted from such fairy tales, but the primary issue is the timeless vice of envy. Envy and jealousy are generally used interchangeably, but they are actually quite distinct. Jealousy is directed at the desire for a particular good or object, but stops there. Envy takes jealous to a new level — it wants something, but it sees the person who has what they want, or who is an obstacle to what they want, to be taking something away from them. The word envy comes from the Latin word invidere, which means to “look askance upon,” or to give someone “the evil eye” full of malice and spite. It fosters the impulse to destroy others.