With the launch of my book this past week, I think it is timely to take a look at the ultimate Virgin story – Cinderella. You can find Cinderella stories in cultures all over the world. In North America the most famous movie ones would be Ever After and Pretty Woman. Bollywood Hollywood and most recently The Year of the Fish are also great examples.
What these movies all have in common is that they follow the archetypal structure of the Virgin with a common method of keeping herself small. She holds the belief that she has to use her talent and energy to serve others to be loved or safe. So she puts all her time into the stepsisters and stepmother’s needs and neglects her dream.
There has been lots of great analysis of Ever After and Pretty Woman because they hit such a strong cord with female audiences. LaVeria Alexander and Alexis Krasilovsky ask the question if giving the protagonist a feisty attitude and physical strength really makes her story a modern feminine journey.
This is an excellent point. Do we have to give the protagonist masculine characteristics in order to make her an endearing lead character?
No. It works for Daniel because it has not been done at the sacrifice of her having a dream of bringing the principle of Utopia to the Kingdom (the drive of the Virgin archetype in this version), and it here that the growth occurs in our protagonist. She is strong but she carries a belief that she will only know the love of a mother if she is a servant to her. This cripples her until she Gives Up What Has Kept Her Stuck and accepts she can live without the love of her stepmother.
In Ella Enchanted, they abandoned the Virgin journey in the book and substituted a Hero’s journey with a female lead and it did not work at all.
It is important when writing the initiation of the Virgin journey not to be afraid to show the Virgin as lacking in power, just as the Hero initially Refuses the Call. It gives greater meaning to her eventual growth.