What is True Beauty?: Cyrus Macmillan’s The Indian Cinderella and HappyThankYouMorePlease

18 Jul

Cyrus Macmillan’s “The Indian Cinderella”, suggests that the Fairy Tale’s allegorical purpose is to reveal the importance of honesty and true beauty. This caused me to reflect on a deeper moral: Beauty is so much more than what just meets the eye. It is so much more than “acts of kindness” and outer appearance. It is a hidden truth to be sought for and deeply rooted in the heart. True beauty is being honest in the face of adversity, amid not being granted a reward because the truth is a reward in of itself. In this modern adaptation of the Classic Cinderella, true beauty is revealed.

Macmillan’s “The Indian Cinderella” is a Fairy Tale about a great Indian Warrior who has a wonderful and strange power of invisibility. It was published in his collection Canadian Wonder Tales available from Project Gutenberg Canada. Throughout the fairy tale Strong Wind, the Indian warrior, is seeking a bride to marry and help him with his good deeds and will not marry anyone who is untruthful. He therefore assesses his perspective brides by having his sister test their truthfulness. In the end he marries the only woman who tells the truth.

So, the moral of this fairy tale is that integrity and remaining true to moral convictions (no matter what the circumstances are), can grant us our deepest desires and lead us into a rich and restored life with a ‘happy ending.’ The Indian Cinderella was not forever beautiful and did not win Strong Wind’s affection by mere looks. It was her virtue, purity of heart and honesty that allowed her to see him, metaphorically unveiling her eyes to what matters most: truth.

It is seen as relevant because the moral of telling the truth serves as a symbol that beauty is not based on the outer appearance. It is through honesty and being morally good, especially not for personal gain but rather selflessness, that one’s true beauty is revealed.

When one thinks of fairytales, one does not automatically think about honesty. In fact, happy endings are usual what comes to mind. Even the classics are dripping with deceitful undertones – and that’s coming from, me, one of the most hardcore Disney fan there is. The Little mermaid – which is my ultimate favorite Disney princess and movie – has to basically hastily and forcefully manipulate/trick Prince Eric to fall for her in 3 days or else she’ll turn back into a mermaid. Aladdin lies about his identity in order to win the heart and the throne of Princess Jasmine. Even the classic Cinderella has to hide her identity and completely transform into someone she’s not in order to have one night with the Prince. In one form or another, most classic fairytale has been founded upon a level of deceit or another – in order to equate beauty. This is why I admire Macmillan’s “The Indian Cinderella”.

In the end, her honesty is what transformed her into real beauty. Now – as associative connections go – this particular moment made me think about a movie I saw titled “HappyThankYouMorePlease,” which is available for streaming from Hoopla or can be borrowed on DVD from BCCLS libraries.  There is this particular moment in the movie that embodies this very realization: the dinner scene. Not to give away any spoilers to the movie in question, but in this scene the female lead is told to close her eyes. She was asked this so that she may only hear what her date has to say, rather than also “hear” with her eyes and be clouded by the judgment they bring. It is with her ears that she listens to the truth that comes from her date’s mouth. A truth that is dripping with honesty and what ends up being the real beauty that not only connects with her soul, but also her mind. Check out the movie. It’s worth watching.

I really believe that beauty is in the eye of the beholder – as cliché as clichés go – and that the eyes can be the window to the soul – yet another cliché – so therefore if one’s inner self is true and honesty is beautiful, then shouldn’t that be a fairytale worth basing one’s dreams on? Integrity is so underrated nowadays that we underestimate the power and beauty that lies within it. After all, isn’t that what we want to raise our children on?

Written By:
Sherissa Hernandez
Adult Programming Assistant

Great Science Fiction and Fantasy Reads: The First Half of 2018 with the Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Discussion Group

11 Jul

The first half of 2018 has been filled with a lot of enjoyable books for our Science Fiction and Fantasy Group. We hope you can join us for future discussions.  On Monday, July 23 we will be discussing Spellsinger by Alan Dean Foster in honor of the summer reading theme of “Reading Rocks.”  We always welcome input into what books the group reads, so we would love to hear your suggestions!  Email hplwriters @ gmail.com to be added to our mailing list.  If you are a Hoboken Resident be sure to sign up for our summer reading program.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making
by Catherynne M. Valente
You may remember I wrote about The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making in a previous post about books that were originally published online.  I had loved the novel, so I was excited when one of the group members had suggested it.  There was some discussion of it in comparison to other children’s books we had read – such as the first three Oz books.  The story has a very retro fairytale feel to it which some of the group enjoyed.  Before the book discussion we watched Labyrinth which Valente has said was very influential to her in the author interview that was included at the end of the book.  You can read more about Labyrinth in a previous post I had written in honor of its 30th anniversary.

Mote in God’s Eye
by Larry Niven‎ & ‎Jerry Pournelle
Mote in God's Eye
image from Amazon.com
We had previously read two of Niven’s books as well as the Niven/Pournelle collaboration Inferno.  While the group thought that Pournelle’s influence was felt more heavily in Inferno, overall Mote In God’s Eye seemed more reminiscent of the Ringworld books by Niven we had read previously.  I found the book a little slow moving at first, but found it picked up and had me enthralled by the end with its story of first contact between humans and an alien race.  We paired the book with a screening of the Start Trek movie, Wrath of Khan which the group enjoyed.

The Magicians
by Lev Grossman
My first experience with The Magicians was its adaptation on the SyFy channel so I was curious to compare it to the book series.  Both feel like a modern and more adult take on Children’s Classics, most notably Harry Potter, Narnia, and The Once and Future King all of which we had read in previous book discussions so we had a lot of talk about them in comparison.  The group felt that although this was an interesting setup with all the borrowing from other works it felt more referential than innovative.  We also watched the first three episodes of the TV show.  I enjoyed both and this may be a rare exception where I did not necessarily like the book more than its adaptation.

Ready Player One
by Ernest Cline
The group was curious to read and discuss Ready Player One since its movie adaptation was making its big screen debut.  I think this is another example of where the movie and book are very different in some ways, but both enjoyable and the changes for the movie felt on the whole necessary due to the more visual medium.  I’d definitely recommend the book, if you only saw the film. Ready Player One relies heavily on 80’s nostalgia, but we found interestingly the references did not resonate for some of the older members of the group who experienced the 80’s as adults rather than children, since many of the references are about video games, toys, and cartoons.  I had been curious to see if it was necessary to get all the references to still enjoy the book and film, but the group members who weren’t as knowledgeable still seemed to like the work.  We also watched Existenz beforehand, which the group felt had some interesting concepts about reality, but did not enjoy some of the intense visuals that are a hallmark of many Cronenberg films.

by Neal Shusterman
One of the group members mentioned that she had been hearing a lot of buzz about the award winning Young Adult novel Scythe by Neal Shusterman so I was curious to check it out. The novel is interesting since in some ways it depicts a world which many people would see as a Utopia where disease and injury can almost always be cured and nanites in people’s blood prevent pain and depression.  Yet there is something that seems dulled in the society where death only comes by the hands of designated Scythes who “glean” in order to keep the population numbers down.  I found the book a bit slow in the early chapters where it focused on world building and typical teen concerns, but found it picked up with action and intrigue in the second half.  Beforehand we watched Ghost Rider which on the whole the group found over the top but enjoyable.

Fahrenheit 451
by Ray Bradbury
fahrenheit 451
HBO recently debuted an adaptation of the Science Fiction classic, Fahrenheit 451, which had been on our “to be read” list for a while.  We viewed the 1966 movie adaptation before the discussion.  It was interesting to see how relevant the book was to our current world situation where censorship and mass media are both hot topics.  The group had a great discussion about how Bradbury’s four walls of viewing screens seemed very relevant with VR, Augmented Reality, and people constantly being glued to their cell phones.  We had a large turnout for the 1966 movie adaptation which had an interesting stylized look that to me kept it from feeling dated.  I especially liked that in the movie the protagonist’s wife and a young woman he meets, who seem to be positioned as mirror opposites of one another, was played by the same actress.  The novel is definitely a work you should check out!

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Head of Reference

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