Putting the Punk in a Steampunk Cinderella: Marissa Meyer's "Lunar Chronicles"
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Focusing on the first novel, Cinder, in Marissa Meyer’s 'Lunar Chronicles' series, this paper examines her blending of fairy-tale and steampunk motifs in order to rewrite the meme of "Cinderella", identified not only as a narrative of family dysfunction and child abuse, but also as a narrative of feminine passivity and wish fulfilment. After identifying the key motifs from "Cinderella" present in the novel, the abusive stepfamily, the seemingly abject heroine, the prince, the pumpkin transportation, and the ball, the discussion progresses to address two powerful steampunk motifs associated with the Cinderella character, Cinder: the maker, or mechanic, and the cyborg. As a maker, Cinder is empowered by her knowledge of technology and ability to tinker with it, for she is able to use her skills to resist those who would abuse her, and as she is a cyborg, she also has control over her own body. Her cybernetics also empower Cinder, allowing her to resist both mental and physical attacks. Comparing Meyer’s use of steampunk motif to popular applications of steampunk to "Cinderella," such as Rod Espinosa’s "Steampunk Cinderella", which focus on aesthetics over politics, illustrates the degree to which her depiction of Cinder is connected to one of the punk aspect of steampunk, the rebellion against social injustice. Meyer does not rewrite the meme of abuse in "Cinderella," but in her revision of the story, she demonstrates how a girl might resist being defined by her abuse, and she rewrites the meme of female passivity as Cinder works through a process of identity formation. Compared to the novel’s female characters that use traditional markers of femininity to disguise their manipulations and cruelties, the cyborg mechanic Cinder emerges as a positive role model for girls.