Sunday, March 25, 2012

Rags to Riches, Cinderella Style

 The rags to riches story is the epitome of Cinderella, but how realistic is it really? Truth be told it is entirely realistic, at least in today's society, to rise from rags to riches, but to do it in the manner that it occurs in Cinderella, specifically through the means of magic and marriage is utterly absurd. People rise to riches primarily through a combination of intelligence, work, and luck, none of which can be attributed to either magic or marriage.

People do not simply become rich, they must do something for it, be that start a very successful company or win the lottery, it does not magically happen. While one might argue that this involves a large amount of luck, and luck is an equivalent to magic, this is simply not true. First of all, luck is very different from magic. Magic is, for one, supernatural, which by its very definition means “That is above nature; belonging to a higher realm or system than that of nature; transcending the powers or the ordinary course of nature.” (Oxford English Dictionary) [1] and thus does NOT occur in nature or the real world. Luck on the other hand, very much exists, and can be placed squarely in the realm of “natural”. Furthermore, luck is non-judging. Magic on the other hand, is very judgmental. In fairy tales, the magic always works out in favor of the kindest, or the hardest working, or even the prettiest one. In Cinderella for example, the magic chooses Cinderella over her step sisters because she is kind, hardworking and pretty, while they are mean, lazy and ugly. Luck in real life has no bias, and is thus in no way analogous to magic.

Only pretty girls get fairy god mothers.

Furthermore, while some people do get rich via marriage, this is a very rare occurrence. The idea that people try to marry rich is one that originated in fairy tales and has little to no basis in the real world. [2] Inter-class marriages are among the most rare, and is not a real source of rags to riches stories.

As said above, the real source of rags to riches stories is personal motivation. The vast majority of the world's wealthiest people have their wealth self-made. They did not, stumble upon a four-leaf clover, or marry the heir to a kingdom, they made their riches themselves. To think otherwise is quite frankly naïve.

[2] Do American Women Marry Up?
Zick Rubin
American Sociological Review , Vol. 33, No. 5 (Oct., 1968), pp. 750-760

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