Cinderella (2015)

Inciting Event: Ella’s father decides to take his one last chance at happiness and remarry. But when his new wife, Lady Tremaine, arrives with her immature daughters, it becomes clear she’s anything but a good replacement for Ella’s own beloved mother. Ella’s relationship with her stepmother drives this story far more than her relationship with the prince—as proven by this Inciting Event.

First Plot Point: Ella’s father dies, and Lady Tremaine immediately shows her true colors by forcing Ella to live in the attic and treating her as a servant. Ella leaves her Normal World as a beloved daughter and enters her “adventure world” as a scorned servant. This is where the story’s true conflict begins. Up to this point, everything has pretty much been set-up for this moment.

First Pinch Point: After meeting Prince Kit (without realizing that’s who he is), Ella inspires him to invite all the maidens in the kingdom to his betrothal ball. Unfortunately, her stepmother refuses to buy her a gown, and when Ella sews her own, the stepmother destroys it and leaves a weeping Ella behind.

Ella’s unspoken goal throughout the story is to escape her stepmother. This is a clear emphasis of the antagonist’s power and her ability to thwart Ella’s goal.

Midpoint: Thanks to the fairy godmother, Ella is able to go to the ball after all. She reunites with the prince (who now believes her to be a mysterious princess) and charms everyone who sees her. Here, Ella’s journey swivels away from reaction and into action.

Second Pinch Point: Midnight begins to toll and the magic of Ella’s gown and equipage begins to falter. She flees the prince, leaving a glass slipper behind. The emphasis of the antagonistic forces might have been greater here, had Ella been more disturbed or saddened by the magic’s end. Still, it’s yet another obstacle between her and the prince—and thus her escape from her stepmother.

Third Plot Point: After the king dies, the prince attempts to find Ella by trying the lost slipper on every maiden in the kingdom. The stepmother discovers and destroys Ella’s remaining slipper and strikes a deal with the Grand Duke to keep the prince from ever finding her. Aside from the symbolism of death (via the king), this is obviously a massive low moment for Ella, whose every hope of obtaining her goals is dashed here.

Climax: The Grand Duke arrives at Ella’s house (while she is locked in the attic) to try on the slipper on the last of the maidens. This brings all the important characters face to face for the final confrontation and the resolution of the conflict.

Climactic Moment: After hearing Ella singing, the prince demands an audience with her. He recognizes her and asks her to marry him. Ella walks out of her stepmother’s house with him—and tells her she forgives her for her cruelty.

Resolution: Ella and the prince are married.

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