Seated in her nest of ashes, Cinderella embodies human misery. The essence of inner and outer nobility, she is the envy of her cruel stepmother and her ugly sisters. Using this familiar story, Ann and Barry Ulanov explore the psychological and theological aspects of envy and goodness. In their interpretation of the tale, they move back and forth between internal and external issues – from how feminine and masculine parts of persons fit or do not fit together to how individuals conduct their lives with those of the same and opposite sexes, how they conflict, compete, or join harmoniously.
“The Cinderella tale, so simple and so profound, offers a direct road into and through the thickets of envying and being envied. Envy between sisters, between mothers and daughters, between the sexes, between nations . . . between different parts of our own psyche, even of God – these are the multiple places of wounding we touch in this book. The central role of envy in determining the very nature of our society – its politics, for example – is, we think, crucial.”
After considering this rarely discussed human emotion, the authors focus on the nature of goodness as it surfaces in the envy experience. They reflect on its abundance, ability to unite disparate parts, its abiding presence, and its joy, then conclude with a glossary of terms and a brief review of the psychological literature on envy.