Playing With / Wicked Stepmother

Basic Trope: A character, usually female, has a stepmother who is cruel to her.
  • Straight: Bob's new stepmother, Alice, is mean to him and treats him like an unpaid servant.
  • Exaggerated: Alice beats Bob nearly to death every morning, then makes him live in the stables and wear leftover napkins for clothing.
  • Downplayed: Alice makes rude remarks about Bob behind his back.
  • Justified:
    • Her actions are for the ultimate good of the stepchildren.
    • Alice's husband Charles favors Bob blindly, and the Alice can't take it out on him, so she takes it out on Bob.
    • Times are hard, money is short, and Alice wants her own children to survive and prosper, which means nothing for Bob.
  • Inverted:
    • Alice is kinder to Bob than his original mother had been.
    • Alternatively, Bob is needlessly, pointlessly cruel to Alice, who's done nothing to provoke him.
    • Or Alice is kinder to Bob than to her own children.
    • Or Alice has no children of her own, and regards Bob as her own son.
  • Gender Flipped: Bob has an evil stepfather.
  • Subverted: Bob describes his stepmother as such, but he's also an Unreliable Narrator.
  • Double Subverted: …but on this matter, he's telling the truth.
  • Parodied:
    • The stepmother is the wickedest person in the neighborhood yet literally no one notices.
    • Alice does nothing more than Poke the Poodle, yet a Knight in Shining Armor is determined to save Bob from her when Bob neither notices or cares.
  • Zig Zagged: Alice's treatment of Bob varies from reasonable to hostile.
  • Averted: Alice is generally supportive of Bob.
  • Enforced: Moral Guardians object to Abusive Parents, so they become stepparents.
  • Lampshaded: "She's my wicked stepmother. That's what describes her best."
  • Invoked: ???
  • Exploited: Bob's father wants him to leave home, so he marries a cruel woman.
  • Defied:
    • Alice is careful to treat her stepchildren fairly so that she doesn't become one of these.
    • Bob's father makes sure to marry a woman who would care equally for all their children.
    • Bob's father makes sure Alice treats Bob fairly, and makes an arrangement that if he dies before Alice, Bob will live with his grandparents.
  • Discussed: "And that is my stepmother." "Evil?" "But of course."
  • Conversed: "You notice there are never any good stepmothers in these stories?"
  • Deconstructed: The stepmother's continued mistreatment of Bob alienates Bob's father, who divorces her.
  • Reconstructed: But because he was himself abused, he marries another woman who is equally bad.

Back to Wicked Stepmother
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