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Minerva

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Minerva is an antagonist of Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella. She is the shorter, fleshier sister of Calliope, a stepsister of Cinderella, and a daughter of the latter's stepmother.

Role in the film

On a trip to the market, Minerva snatches an unusual purple hat topped with fluffy pink feathers before her sister Calliope can grab it. Bickering over whom it looks best on, they ask their mother to decide between them. She smoothly dodges the question, however, before she steps into the shop. Unsatisfied, the girls turn to their stepsister Cinderella and ask her opinion on the matter. Cinderella answers honestly, saying she doesn't think it looks good on either of them. Highly offended, Minerva nastily dismisses her answer before Calliope plucks the hat off Minerva's head and dashes off. An angry Minerva catches her and the two resume fighting all the way into the hat shop.

When they emerge, Minerva is the triumphant owner of the coveted purple hat. Seeing Cinderella daydreaming out in the street, Minerva calls her stepsister lazy but Calliope mishears her and thinks she's the one being insulted. Minerva snaps that Calliope's stupid, she clearly meant Cinderella. Calliope is mollified for a moment before taking offense at being called stupid.

On another day spent shopping in the marketplace, Minerva and Calliope are choosing lollipops from a candy shop when their mother bustles in, exclaiming that the prince is throwing a ball in order to find a bride. The excited sisters hope the prince will propose to them before their mother puts back their candy and drags them off. When they get home, Minerva glares at Cinderella along with her mother and sister until she opens the door for them and takes their hats, bags, and gloves. The Stepmother wastes no time in training her daughters to be graceful, respectable ladies and places a book on each of her daughters' heads, instructing Minerva to "be a swan". Before the girls can even sit down their mother orders them all upstairs to take their tea.

The day of the ball, the Stepmother ignores her curvier daughter's cries of pain as she viciously laces Minerva's corset as tight as she can. She then asks her daughters how they plan on impressing the prince. Minerva initially thinks she'll start by batting her eyelashes, but changes her mind to copy Calliope, who chooses to curtsy first and then flutter her eyelashes. Minerva then nervously mentions that she'd like to recite a poem to the prince. To her mother's annoyance, Minerva nervously scratches herself and can't seem to stop. Losing patience, her mother pins her arms to her sides, begging her not to scratch herself in front of the prince and reminding her and Calliope that they must hide their flaws until after the wedding.Cinderella, however, disagrees and vocalizes her thoughts of love to her stepsisters, who find her ideas beautiful. Their incensed mother snaps that love doesn't matter, marriage does. Minerva and Calliope soak in every warning about the follies of falling in love as they undergo facial masks, manicures, pedicures, and other methods of beautification before they saunter out the door with feathers in their hair and stars in their eyes.

Soon enough, the sisters are waiting impatiently in line for their chance to share a dance with the prince. Minerva knocks aside her sister in order to dance with him first and despite some nervous scratching, eagerly recites her poem to him. Seeing that he's not swept away by her artistic charm, she forcibly tries to make him appreciate her poetry, becoming so aggressive that the alarmed prince signals his loyal servant Lionel to take her away. Lionel in turn signals the guards, knowing he alone is no match for Minerva's strength. Even so, Minerva does her very best to cling to the prince before the guards manage to force her off of him. Not long after, Cinderella arrives and sweeps the prince off his feet. Not recognizing her stepsister, a jealous Minerva fumes with her sister from the sidelines as the prince and the mysterious girl whirl around the room. When the couple whirls right outside, Minerva and Calliope follow them all around the gardens, spying on them from behind bushes, trees, and statuary. They complain that just because the mystery girl is beautiful, graceful, and unusual, that doesn't mean the prince has to fall for her rather than one of them. Hastily backing out of the prince's line of sight, the sisters topple over each other backwards into a fountain.

Returning home after the ball ends, Minerva and Calliope tell Cinderella slightly-exaggerated stories of the ball, although they grudgingly admit that there was some other girl who captured his attention as well. Cinderella mentions her ideas of what the ball may have been like, enchanting her stepsisters with dreams of charming princes and floating ballrooms before their disapproving mother sends them off to bed.

The next day, the prince has devised a way to find the mysterious Cinderella by having every single eligible young maiden try on the glass shoe she left behind until he finds the one whom it fits. His search eventually brings him to the Stepmother's house. After Calliope tries it on and fails, Minerva sticks her stockinged foot in Lionel's face. He tries to put the slipper on her foot, but it clearly doesn't fit. An irate Minerva puts Lionel into a headlock, yelling that it fit perfectly at the ball and that he must have shrunk it. Yanking himself free from her hold, Lionel asks the Stepmother if there are any other eligible ladies in the house. The stepmother herself tries on the delicate slipper and to everyone's amazement, it fits.

When their mother starts shrieking that the shoe is cutting off her circulation, Calliope and Minerva hurriedly help Lionel yank the glass slipper free. The disbelieving prince asks them if they are sure no other eligible girl is in the house. Knowing that Cinderella is in the kitchen, the trio hastily and conspicuously attempt to block the locked kitchen doors. With renewed hope, the prince orders them opened. After a brief struggle, Lionel manages to secure the key and unlocks the doors before the prince walks inside. Everyone crowds around the doorway only to see that Cinderella is clearly not in the room, much to her stepfamily'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 Minerva's strength and linguistic knowledge as the sisters toss the shoe back and forth to keep it out of Lionel's reach. Losing patience, Prince Christopher orders the chaos to stop and marches out the door, running right into Cinderella. He places the shoe on Cinderella's foot himself, and as it easily slides into the glass slipper -a perfect fit- her Stepmother screams in despair and collapses into her daughters' arms.

On the day of Prince Christopher and Cinderella's wedding, the trio are shut outside the palace gates, although that doesn't stop Minerva and her family from unsuccessfully attempting to climb over them.

Quotes

  • "You've got too big a heart, mother."
  • "You said to show him that there's more to me than mere beauty, so I thought that I'd recite a poem."
  • "I can't help it mother, you know how I get itchy when I'm nervous!"
  • "I WANT A CHANCE AT HIM!"
  • "Ships that pass in the night and speak together in passing, on the ocean of life. It's poetry! Ships that pass in the night! That's you and me. On the ocean of life! Don't you get it?"

Trivia

  • Minerva was named after the Roman version of Athena.
  • It is said that the reason Minerva was chosen to have a dark skin tone was to avoid an allegory to slavery because in this production, her biological relatives were played by white actresses and Cinderella was played by a black one.
  • Minerva is said to be as "strong as an ox".
  • The Stepmother says that Minerva has memorized the "Wreck of the Hesperus" in four languages including pig latin.
  • Minerva favors full, flowy dresses in warm reds and oranges.

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