We all know how Disney’s Cinderella ends. The Grand Duke visits every house in the kingdom looking for the girl the lost glass slipper fits. Cinderella is locked in the tower to prevent her from trying on the glass slipper1. Cinderella escapes the locked tower. Wicked Step Mother breaks the glass slipper to prevent her from trying on the glass slipper. Cinderella produces the other glass slipper. Slipper fits. Cinderella marries the prince.
Cinderella never actually tries on the glass slipper. She tries on a glass slipper, but she does not try on the glass slipper that was left at the ball.
We know Cinderella was the girl who danced with the Prince. We, the audience, have seen Cinderella wearing both glass slippers, seen her dance with the Prince, seen her lose one slipper, and seen her in possession of the other slipper. We know the glass slipper in Cinderella’s pocket is the other glass slipper. Because we have seen the entire chain of possession of the other glass slipper, we know it is the other glass slipper. Cinderella knows it is the other glass slipper. We are ready to accept that the Grand Duke knows, because But, really, how does the Grand Duke know it is the other glass slipper?
This is important. Well, really, it is trivial; but, in the context of the film, it is really important to a fictional, animated, exploitive dictatorship.. The royal proclamation announcing The Great Slipper Screen reads (emphasis added, by me, of all people):
All loyal subjects of his Imperial Majesty are hereby notified by royal proclamation that in regard to a certain glass slipper, it is upon this day decreed that a quest be instituted throughout the length and breadth of our domain. The sole and express purpose of said quest is as follows to wit: That every single maiden in our beloved Kingdom shall try upon her foot this aforementioned slipper of glass, and should one be found whose foot shall properly fit said slipper, such maiden will be acclaimed the subject of this search and the one and only true love of his Royal Highness, our noble Prince. And said Royal Highness will humbly request the hand of said maiden in marriage to rule with him over all the Land as Royal Princess and future Queen.
In Cinde-really 4: The Great Slipper Screen, we talked about the hypothetical screening protocol that the Grand Duke should have been following. The text of the royal proclamation makes it clear that they are:
- Ignoring all considerations of potential false positives/false negatives.
- Assuming only 1 maiden could fit the glass slipper.
- Stopping at the “Slipper Fit” step without any subsequent validation steps.
The future Queen of the realm (assuming she accepts the Prince’s proposal) will be the first girl whose foot fits the glass slipper. Legally, the Grand Duke never found a maiden “whose foot shall properly fit said slipper” as “said slipper” had shattered on the floor of the Wicked Step-Mother’s house.
What should the Grand Duke think? For starters, he may want to be both cynical and skeptical.
The proclamation mentions the glass slipper1 and, as his assistant appears to be Gaston’s morally challenged sidekick Lefou from Beauty and the Beast, the Grand Duke should probably also worry that families might have bribed my assistant to get information about the slipper. . The Grand Duke could reasonably assume that a number of households might try to create/find the matching slipper that they can produce after “accidentally” breaking the glass slipper2.
On the other hand, he has a few good reasons to believe that the slipper Cinderella produces is the other glass slipper. It is glass. It is tiny. It goes on her right foot (she lost the left slipper when fleeing the ball). It looks just like the other one. In addition, the Grand Duke saw the girl with whom the Prince was danced. Even though the Cinderella that tried on the wrong glass slipper was in her working clothes, the Grand Duke was in a position to judge that the girl in front of him could be the girl for whom he was looking.
These are the theoretical considerations. Our Grand Duke is confronted with a practical problem that needs a practical solution. What would I do if I were the Grand Duke3?
Actually, I wouldn’t do anything that sneaky. Remember those validation steps after the “Slipper Fits” bit of The Great Slipper Screen from above that we were skipping? Consider them unskipped. Couldn’t be that hard to arrange for the Prince to meet Cinderella and confirm that she is the one, before I told my psychopathic monarch about the whole “broken slipper” incident, if I ever told my psychopathic monarch about the whole “broken slipper” incident. What he doesn’t know can’t hurt him, right?
1. Fans of Encyclopedia Brown will know that this was a huge mistake.
2. That’s right. In my newest Cinderella rewrite entitled If the Slipper Fits…, our Cinderella never goes to the ball. There is no Fairy Godmother and the Wicked Step-Mother is Keyser Soze-esque in her ruthless scheming.
3. What would you do if you were a subject of the kingdom where I was the Grand Duke? What you should do is move. You know my sense of humor. This isn’t an issue as long as I am a powerless blogger, but humor plus power (POWER! POOWWERR!)? YIKES! I shall leave you with the advice of Zazu from The Lion King:
If this is where the monarchy is headed count me out.
Out of service, out of Africa, I wouldn’t hang about.