- This article is about the live-action character. You may be looking for the stepmother from 1950 and 2015.
Cinderella's Stepmother is the main antagonist of Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella.
Role in the Film
Leading her family out on a shopping trip, the Stepmother is soon asked by her daughters, Minerva and Calliope, to choose which one an unusual purple hat looks best on. Smoothly dodging the question, she steps into the hat shop, soon followed by her bickering daughters. Before long, they shove their new purchases into Cinderella's arms, snap at her to keep up, and saunter off throughout the marketplace. However, Cinderella loses track of them and meets a kind stranger. Their conversation is interrupted by the Stepmother, who scolds her for talking to a stranger, unaware that he is Prince Christopher in disguise.
On another trip to the market, the Stepmother and her daughters hear that Prince Christopher is giving a ball in order to find a bride. Overjoyed at the news, she is already planning how she will best present her daughters to him in the hopes that he will choose one of them. Coming home after their long, yet exciting, day of shopping, she strides inside after Cinderella opens the door for her and immediately starts training her daughters to walk delicately with a book balancing on their heads. She can hardly wait to doll them up for the ball, but it has been a long day and they are all tired. As they ascend the stairs to head to bed, Cinderella asks her if she can go to the ball, too, but the Stepmother laughs at her and says that she should know her place and be satisfied with it.
On the day of the ball, the Stepmother has her work cut out for her as she does her best to turn her daughters into beautiful, respectable ladies of society. Advancing on Minerva first, she laces her corset as tight as it will go, paying no heed to her cries of pain. She then commands her daughters to tell her how they plan on impressing Prince Christopher. Minerva says she'll start by batting her eyelashes while Calliope demonstrates her unique curtsy which Minerva tries to copy, but stumbles. The Stepmother, who has grown more and more alarmed, asks Minerva what she will say to Prince Christopher as they dance. She tries to answer her but can't seem to stop nervously scratching herself, much to her mother's annoyance. She pins Minerva's arms to her sides as she asks Calliope the same question. She proudly replies that she will amaze Prince Christopher by laughing infectiously at all his jokes. Her mother and sister glance at each other in trepidation before she demonstrates this ability by giggling so hard she snorts. The Stepmother is horrified and quickly stifles her laughter, begging her not to snort in front of Prince Christopher. She reminds her girls that they must hide their flaws until after the marriage is sealed if they are to have a chance at winning his heart. Cinderella, who has been watching all this in the corner, quietly interjects her thoughts on love to her stepsisters, who find her ideas beautiful. An incensed Stepmother, however, snaps that this isn't about love, it is about the business of marriage. She warns her daughters about the follies of falling in love as she helps them to get ready, pointedly ignoring Cinderella. At long last, they head out the door in their finery and set off for the castle, leaving Cinderella behind.
At the ball, the Stepmother and her daughters are waiting in line to dance with Prince Christopher. When an impatient Minerva starts shouting, her scandalized mother quickly covers her mouth. Evidently, however, the Stepmother is growing impatient herself and seeks out Lionel, the man in charge of giving Prince Christopher new dance partners. Using her womanly wiles has much as she can, she unsuccessfully attempts to persuade him into favoring her daughters. Undeterred, she steers away other dancers so her daughters can get at him sooner, but unfortunately for her, both are taken away from him rather quickly after they both alarm him. Soon after, Cinderella arrives and steals his breath away. Although the Stepmother doesn't recognize her, something seems very familiar to her about this mystery girl and she is determined to find out why. She snatches Lionel into a dance and steers him towards Prince Christopher and Cinderella, shoving his head out of the way so she can see them better. At one point she shoves him so hard he falls to the ground, but the Stepmother doesn't miss a beat and instead steals a series of dance partners, making a beeline straight for Cinderella, who is talking with Queen Constantina. Cinderella spots her Stepmother and escapes into the palace gardens in a panic, leaving the Stepmother to stumble right in front of Queen Constantina. After a mortified moment, she ducks away. Later, at midnight, Prince Christopher knocks her right over in his haste to catch the runaway Cinderella.
The Stepmothers and her daughters return home after the ball ends where Cinderella opens the door for them and takes their wraps and bags. They tell her slightly-exaggerated tales of the ball, although they grudgingly admit that there was a "princess something-or-other" who also captured Prince Christopher's attention. Cinderella mentions her ideas of what the ball may have been like, and they are so accurate the Stepmother grows suspicious that Cinderella was somehow there. Nevertheless, Cinderella enchants her stepsisters with her dreams of the ball, even mesmerizing her Stepmother for a while. But as she glides down the stairs, eerily echoing the mystery girl, the Stepmother puts two and two together and stops everything, sternly sending her daughters off to bed before coldly reminding Cinderella that she is common, born from a common mother, and that her father spoiled her with silly dreams that will never come true. The Stepmother then orders her to clean up the house before turning her back on her.
Meanwhile, Prince Christopher has devised a way to find the mysterious maiden by having every single eligible young one try on the glass slipper she left behind until he finds the one whom it fits. His search eventually brings him to the Stepmother's house. She happily observes as both of her daughters try it on, but it fits neither one. As Lionel struggles under the enraged Minerva's headlock, the Stepmother stealthily locks the kitchen doors, where she knows Cinderella is. Wriggling free from Minerva, Lionel asks if there are any other eligible maidens in the house. With a strange glint in her eye, the Stepmother presents her own foot. Lionel believes she is too old, but she snatches the slipper from him and slides it onto her foot. It fits.
But soon the Stepmother's shrieks of triumph turn to ones of pain as she yells that the slipper is cutting off her circulation. She insults Lionel until he and her daughters manage to yank it off. Prince Christopher flat-out refuses to believe that the Stepmother is his true love and once again asks her if she's sure there are no other eligible maidens in the house. She and her daughters once again deny the presence of anyone else and quickly and conspicuously attempt to block the kitchen doors. Suspecting that something's afoot, Prince Christopher signals Lionel to open them. He asks the Stepmother for the key, and after they stare each other down he glances away as she very reluctantly reaches into her decolletage to produce it. The doors are opened, revealing nothing but an ordinary kitchen much to the Stepmother's relief. The disheartened prince prepares to leave but is stopped by the Stepmother, who absolutely begs him to take one of her daughters as his bride. She praises Calliope's "charm and elocution" and Minerva's physical strength. Losing patience, he orders the chaos to stop and marches out the door, running right into Cinderella. As her foot easily slides into the slipper, her Stepmother screams in despair and collapses into her daughters' arms.
On the day of Prince Christopher and Cinderella's wedding, the Stepmother and her daughters are shut outside the palace gates, although that doesn't stop them from trying unsuccessfully to climb over them.
- "How can a mother choose between two such extraordinary daughters?"
- "I thought I told you never to talk to strangers!"
- "After your father died everyone said I should have thrown you out into the street, but I kept you all these years and this is the thanks I get? I've always been told I've got too big a heart."
- "Don't cling to the past, Cinderella. It's not very attractive."
- "Men can't stand to be around smart women."
- "Remember girls! We hide our flaws until after the wedding."
- "Look at that manly physique! Those handsome chiseled features, that wonderful full head... of skin."
- "You're common, Cinderella. Your mother was common and so are you. You can wash your face and put on a clean dress, but underneath you'd still be common. That a prince would even consider taking you for his bride, why, it's laughable!"
- Judging from the Stepmother's outfits, it can be inferred that her favorite color is purple.
- Cinderella mentions that her Stepmother has "changed", implying the possibility that she treats Cinderella so poorly because she reminds her of her late husband.
- Her preference of purple clothing is likely a reference to Lady Tremaine, her counterpart in the animated film.