The Cenci: Step-Mother’s Love, Biological Father’s Hatred

face of a prisoner

In The Cenci, Lucretia and Count Cenci are a married couple. As a step-mother, Lucretia loves her daughter Beatrice. Beatrice refers to Lucretia with affection simply as “mother.” Beatrice’s biological father, Count Cenci, hates Beatrice. He treats Beatrice with inhuman and unfathomable cruelty. Beatrice’s relationship with her step-mother contrasts starkly with her relationship with her biological father.

The Cenci’s stark contrast between Beatrice’s relationships with her step-mother and biological father reverses much other literature and science. In popular literature across the world and throughout history, step-mothers often have a hostile relationship with their step-daughters. That hostility is consistent with aspects of animal behavior (killing offspring of a previous mate) and basic ideas of evolutionary psychology. World literature commonly depicts men as keen to please, serve, and win the love of girls and women. Most human fathers deeply love their children. Caring for biological offspring helps a particular biological type to reproduce and prevail in biological-ecological evolution.

The Cenci greatly depreciates the importance of second-personal communication. That’s consistent with depreciating fundamental realities of human biology and human relationships.

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