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Playing With: Wicked Stepmother
Basic Trope: A character, usually female, has a stepmother who is cruel to her.
  • Straight: Alice's new stepmother, Nastina, is mean to her and treats her like an unpaid servant.
  • Exaggerated: Nastina beats Alice nearly to death every morning, then makes her live in the stables and wear leftover napkins for clothing.
  • Downplayed: Nastina makes rude remarks about Alice behind her back.
  • Justified:
    • Her actions are for the ultimate good of the stepchildren.
    • Her husband favors her stepdaughter blindly, and the stepmother can't take it out on him.
    • Times are hard, money is short, and Nastina wants her own children to survive and prosper, which means nothing for Alice.
  • Inverted:
    • Nastina is kinder to Alice than her original mother had been.
    • Alternatively, Alice is needlessly, pointlessly cruel to Nastina, who's done nothing to provoke her.
    • Or Nastina is kinder to Alice than to her own children.
    • Or Nastina has no children of her own, and regards Alice as her own daughter.
  • Subverted: Alice describes her stepmother thus, but she's also an Unreliable Narrator.
  • Double Subverted: ....Nastina is actually much worse than described.
  • Parodied:
    • The stepmother is the wickedest person in the neighborhood yet literally no one notices.
    • Nastina does nothing more than Poke the Poodle, yet Bob is determined to save Alice from her when Alice neither notices or cares.
  • Zig Zagged: Nastina's treatment of Alice varies from reasonable to hostile.
  • Averted: Nastina is generally supportive of Alice.
  • Enforced: "You can't write a fairy tale where the stepmother is kind and generous! Why would Alice ever leave home?"
  • Lampshaded: "She's my stepmother. That's what describes her best."
  • Invoked: ???
  • Exploited: Alice's father wants her to leave home, so he marries a cruel woman.
  • Defied:
    • Nastina is careful to treat her stepdaughter fairly so that she doesn't become one of these.
    • Alice's father makes sure to marry a woman who would care equally for all their children.
    • Alice's father makes sure Nastina treats Alice fairly, and makes an arrangement that if he dies before Nastina, Alice will live with her 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 Alice alienates Alice'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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