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Cinderella Fairy Tale in Narratology and Feminism


Children’s literature can be defined as that form of literature that is designed for readers and listeners of about twelve years or below. Barry (2009) is of the view that children’s literature can be viewed from four perspectives. The first perspective defines children’s literature as that form of literature that is authored by children. This includes songs, poems, and stories that are written by children either for their fellow children or for the general public.

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The second category includes that form of literature that is written specifically for the child audience. This includes stories, poems, and songs written specifically for children by adult authors or children authors. The third category of children’s literature includes stories, poems, and songs that are selected or chosen by children. These may be written either by children authors of adult authors. The final category of children’s literature includes stories, poems, and another form of literature that is chosen for children. The selection may be carried out by adults (for example curriculum developers) and it might include both the works of children and adult authors (Arizpe & Styles 2003).

In this essay, I am going to critically analyze selected children’s literature using two theoretical frameworks. The literature selected falls into the second category of children literature that was analyzed above. This is the form of literature that is written for children by adult authors.

I will critically analyze three versions of Cinderella, a popular fairy tale targeted at children of different ages. Swann (2002) notes that fairy tales are usually translated into different languages and adapted for readers of different ages. This is especially so given the fact that most of the fairy tales available today were written a long time ago and the English language used is ancient. This being the case, there is always the need to rewrite or retell the fairytale using the modern language for the sake of the children.

The three versions of Cinderella that I selected are from different authors. The first version is by Hoffman (1998) which is part of the collection in A First Book of Fairy Tales. The second version is by Southgate (n.d) in a book titled Cinderella: Ladybird Tales. The third version is by educational consultant Taylor (n.d) in a book titled Read it Yourself with Ladybird. The reason why I selected Cinderella fairy tales is the fact that this story is very old but it is still popular today.

It has the ability to capture the attention of children centuries after it was written. I have used it myself several times in my special needs class. The reason why I selected the three versions is given the fact that the three authors retold or rewrote the stories with a specific age group in mind. For example, the version by Taylor (n.d) is targeted at younger children who are at Level 1 of learning. The one by Southgate (n.d) and Hoffman (n.d) appear to be targeted at older children.

As earlier indicated, I will use two theoretical frameworks to critically analyze the three Cinderella fairy tales given above. The major theoretical framework that I will use is narratology. According to Jahn (2005), narratology can be conceptualized as a theory that involves the critical study of narratives and narrative structures. The major aim of narratology is to analyze how the narrative (or the structure of the narrative) affects the perception of the reader.

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In the context of this essay, the focus of narratology will be to analyze how the fairy tale’s narratives and narrative structure affect the perception of the children and to some extent, adults who read these fairy tales. This is for example adults like me who read the stories to children. Narratology has several concepts some of which will be addressed in this essay. These include textual elements, narrative voice, the relationship between the narrator and the narrative, the focus of the narrative, the narratological framework among others.

The other theory that I will use in this analysis is feminism. This will be a minor theory in this analysis and I will use it either to complement or support the major theory of narratology. Chodorow (2009) defines feminism as that form of theory that analyses the treatment that women are given in society. The theory may analyze issues to do with gender inequality, the social role of women, and the experience of women in society among others. In literature, feminist criticism involves a critical analysis of a given text from a feminist perspective. In the context of this essay, I will analyze how women characters and women issues in general are treated in the Cinderella fairy tales that will be analyzed.

Critical Analysis of the Selected Fairy Tales using Narratology and Feminist Theories

Fairy Tales as Literature Genre


As I have already indicated, all the 3 texts that will be critically analyzed in this essay are drawn from the fairy tales’ genre. Gamble & Yates (2008) defines a fairy tale as a form of narrative that mainly features characters drawn from a folklore background. Fairy stories are usually in form of short stories written for children and in some cases, targeted for adults also (Bearne & Watson 2000). For example, the three fairy tales above are targeted at children of different ages. The characters in such narratives include fairies, goblins, dwarves, giants, and elves among others (Zipes 2006). Magic and enchantment are also a major ingredient of fairy tales according to Reynolds (2005).

According to Zipes (2006), not all fairy tales refer to fairies in the narrative. As indicated above, other characters such as giants and goblins may be included in the story instead of fairies. A fairy tale is significantly different from other forms of folk narratives. For example, a legend can be differentiated from a fairy tale given the fact that the former mainly revolves around a major belief and the effects that belief has on society.

Fairy tales have addressed both adults and children’s audiences in the past. This means that fairy characters were present in literature meant for adults as well as that meant for children. However, this changed in the 19th and 20th centuries. According to Swann (2002), this genre began to be associated more with children’s literature as it lost its appeal to the adult audience.

There are some features and characteristics that set a fairy tale apart from other forms of narratives such as legends and folk tales. Following are some of these traits:

Characteristics of a Fairy Tale

Undefined Time and Space

The author of a fairy tale must ensure that the plot of the narrative allows for anything to happen. This is the reason why fairy tales have undefined time and space. It is noted that most of these narratives start with phrases such as “once upon a time”, “long ago in a far, far away place” and such others (Chambers 2011). These are vague opening statements that do not tie the narrative down to a particular time or space.

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The statements enable the author to give a story that took place nowhere near the here and now (Swann 2002). This gives the author the freedom to spin a tale set in a fantasy world removed from the audience’s reality. Take for example the case of the Cinderella fairy tales above. They all begin with phrases such as “once upon a time there was a little girl called Cinderella…..” (Southgate n.d: p. 6) or “once upon a time, there was a nobleman who had a sweet wife and daughter………” (Hoffman 1998: p. 6).

On the other hand, folk tales are bound in time and space, taking place during periods and places that appear real and defined (Nikolayeva & Scott 2006).

Characters that do not Develop

Another feature of fairy tales is the inclusion of characters that do not need to develop. For example, I noted that in all the three fairy tales above, Cinderella did not need to develop and ran away from her stepsisters and stepmother. On the contrary, she is married to a handsome prince and “…….they live happily ever after” (Hoffman 1998: p. 13). She is taken away from her stepfamily as opposed to moving away from the family on her own.

This is not the case in legends where the life of the main character is laid down in great detail. Take for example the legend of Rip VanWinkle where the main character changes his ways and learns how to live. The character in a legend morphs visibly. For example, they may change their character and become good persons as opposed to being evil. On the contrary, the characters in a fairy tale remain the same. The two stepsisters and the stepmother do not change their character. Cinderella also remains the humble and kind-hearted girl that she was even before marrying the prince (Anderson 2000).


Most fairy tales are characterized by one form of transformation or another (Barry 2009). There is always a form of magic that is induced by the wand of a fairy or such other occurrences (Hallford & Zaghini 2005). In all the three Cinderella fairy tales I introduced above, Cinderella transforms into a beautiful girl wearing a beautiful gown. This is as a result of the magic wand of the fairy godmother. I also noted that the pumpkin transformed into a carriage (Southgate n.d), while the lizards and the mice transformed into footmen and carriage horses (Taylor n.d).

The above are just some of the characteristics of fairy tales. There are other aspects that differentiate a fairy tale from legends and folk tales which I did not mention here. For example, a fairy tale is usually written down in books and such other media with a lot of scenery and depth (McCallum 2011). On the other hand, folk tales are usually oral whereas legends can take either form. As I have already indicated above, most fairy tales are usually targeted at children even though there are some which appeal to both children and adults (Sipe & Pantaleo 2008).

A Brief Summary of Cinderella Fairy Tale


As I have already indicated earlier in this paper, three versions of Cinderella fairy tales were selected for this critical analysis. I have to note at this juncture that the storyline or the plot is the same in the three stories. The only difference that I noted is the fact that they are by different authors and targeted at children of different ages. This being the case, another difference that I noted is the fact that the language varies from one version to the other. This depends on the age of the targeted children. For example, I realized that the language used by Taylor (n.d) is very simple and very basic. It is easily understood by children at Level 1 of learning. On the other hand, the language used by Hoffman (1998) and Southgate (n.d) is a bit complicated.

This is the reason why I will provide one summary of the Cinderella fairy tale at this point. The summary applies to all three versions.

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Summary of Cinderella Fairy Tale

All three stories open with a girl whose father and mother dies living her under the care of cruel stepsisters and stepmother. Southgate (n.d) notes that “……her mother was dead and she lived with her father and two stepsisters” (p. 6). The mother is the one who dies first. The father is forced to marry another woman who has two daughters who were as cruel as their mother. Shortly afterward, the father dies and the girl is left under the care of the stepfamily.

The girl is named Cinderella. Different authors give a different version of where the name came from. For example, Southgate (n.d) notes that “……..she (Cinderella) used to sleep by the hearth in the cinders (and) that was why her stepsisters called her Cinderella” (p. 8). On the other hand, Hoffman (1998) notes that the girl was initially called Ella. However, she used to sweep cinders around the compound and that is why her stepsisters named her Cinderella.

Cinderella was very beautiful and that is why her stepsisters used to hate her. They mistreated her very much. One day, the king held a party for his son. All the girls in the land were invited apart from Cinderella. Cinderella could not attend since she did not have a gown to wear to the party. Her sisters left her home and she was very sad. She wished she had better clothes to wear to the party.

Suddenly, a fairy godmother appeared and helped Cinderella attend the party. The fairy transformed a pumpkin into a carriage pulled by six beautiful horses. Cinderella was magically transformed into a beautiful princess wearing a very beautiful gown (Taylor n.d). However, the fairy godmother warned Cinderella that when the clock strikes midnight, she will be transformed into her old self. Cinderella attends the party and mesmerizes the guests including the prince.

The prince falls in love with her and dances with her all night long. However, when Cinderella realised that the clock is almost striking midnight, she rushed out of the ballroom lest she transforms back into her old self in front of the prince. In her hurry to leave the palace, Cinderella lost one of her slippers. The prince declares that he will marry the girly whose foot fits into the glass slipper. The prince finally arrives at Cinderella’s house and the glass slipper fits perfectly. The prince realises that this was the girl who captured his heart at the party. Cinderella is married to the prince and she moves into the palace. She goes together with her stepfamily and she lives happily ever after with her prince.

A Critical Analysis of the Three Cinderella Fairy Tales using the Narratology and Feminist Literary Criticism Theories

Are the Fairy Tales Really Narrative Discourses?

Before embarking on the critical analysis, it is important to determine whether the fairy tales selected for this essay are narratives or not. To answer this question, Jahn (2005) advises that one should first try to define narrative itself and identify the main characteristics of a narrative. After that, one can then analyse whether the text under review is a narrative by trying to assess whether it contains the main ingredients of a narrative.

From my independent research, I found that all narratives contain a story which the narrator tries to pass on to the audience. A story in this case can be conceptualised as a sequence of events involving characters created by the storyteller (Meister, Kindt & Schernos 2005). An analysis of the three fairy tales selected for this essay will reveal that they all present a story. The three tell the story of a pious girl who was mistreated by her stepsisters and stepmother.

Despite the mistreatments, the girl remains kind and loving. Finally, she is married by a prince and her life changes from that of a poor girl to that of a beautiful princess. All of these traits make these fairy tales to be narratives.

The fairy tales also contain characters that cause and experience the events that are taking place (Jahn 2005). The main character in these fairy tales is the girl named Cinderella. She is subjected to the evil of her stepsisters and her stepmother. To this end, she is experiencing the events taking place. Other characters are the prince and the fairy godmother. They are all causing events that are experienced by other characters in the story.

Feminist theorists such as Chodorow (2009) and Kolmar & Bartowski (2005) will agree with me that all the fairy tales selected revolve around a female character. Cinderella is a female character. This applies to the stepsisters and the stepmother. The fairy godmother is also a female character. Male characters in these fairy tales play very minor roles. The male characters are used to support the main female character. For example, the footmen who emerge from the lizards are male characters who transport Cinderella to the palace. The prince is a male character who rescues Cinderella from the evils of her stepfamily.

A Comparison of the Three Fairy Tales from a Narratology Perspective

As I have already indicated, the three fairy tales are told by three different authors and they are targeted at children in different learning levels. The structure of the stories, the words used as well as the illustrations used in the narrative indicates the learning level of the children targeted.

Mary Hoffman’s Version

Even though this author has not indicated the age bracket of the children targeted here, I think that the story is targeted at older children who already know how to read and who can handle relatively long and complicated sentences. Note for example the explanation given for the name Cinderella. Hoffman first introduces the initial name of the main character (Ella) in one sentence. She then explains in a second sentence that the girl used to sweep cinders from the grate. In a third sentence, she explains that this is why the girl was called “Cinderella”. It is obvious that the child reading the story has to make sense of the three sentences and read them together.

Like other children stories, each page in this version contains illustrations explaining the events in the story. The illustrations are coloured to further engage the children. The illustrations seem to occupy at least 50 percent of the surface of the page. This makes it possible for the child to go through the page faster. It also ensures that the child is visually stimulated. The story is also fairly long considering that it is told in 8 pages.

Taylor’s Version

This narrative seems to be targeted at children who are young. It appears that the target audience for this story are younger than in Hoffman’s story above. The sentences used are fairly simple and short. For example, the author does not explain the origin of the main character’s name. Whole pages in this text are bursting with colours to attract the attention of the children. This is unlike in Hoffman’s text where colours were only to be found in the illustrations. In Taylor’s text, the illustrations occupy a 100 percent of all the pages. The words telling the story are superimposed on these illustrations. The words seem to occupy less than 10 percent of the page’s surface.

Southgate’s Version

This story seems to be targeted at children who are more or less the same age as those in Hoffman’s version. The sentences used are longer than those in Taylor’s version. The illustrations used occupy about 50 percent of the page’s surface just like in Hoffman’s version. The illustrations are also coloured. The illustrations are more complex than those found in Taylor’s version. This means that they require the child to be more analytical in discerning the meaning of those illustrations.

A Comparison of the Three Fairy Tales from a Feminist Perspective

All the three versions revolve around female characters. I noted that the few male characters in the story are either absent or plays a minor role in developing the story. Take for example Cinderella’s father. In Southgate’s version, the father is mentioned in the first paragraph where the author states that the main character lived with the step-sisters, the step-mother and the father. The father is not mentioned anywhere else in the text. The same happens in Hoffman’s version of the story. The father is mentioned only in the first paragraph. In Taylor’s version of the story, the father is not even mentioned. The author merely states that Cinderella lived with her step-sisters and step-mother.

Other male characters in the story include the prince who was to later marry Cinderella. I noted that in all the three versions, the prince is used to reaffirm the virtuous nature of Cinderella. Getting married to a prince was a privilege in this society. This means that the good nature of Cinderella was rewarded through a wedding to a prince.

Textual Elements Projecting the Voice of the Narrator in the Fairy Tales

Gerald (2001) is of the view that another defining feature of a narrative is the presence of a narrator. This is the person who is telling the story (Eisner 2008). For example, I am the narrator in this essay. In the three fairy tales that I selected, there are voice markers (Jahn 2005) that project a narrative voice in the story. Here are some of those markers:

Content Matter

The voices in the narratives portray the disposition of the characters. Some are happy, others sad and others comical. Take for example this phrase from Southgate (n.d): “………’A fine sight you would be at a ball!’ laughed the stepsisters” (p. 12). The voice of the narrator here points out to female characters that are evil. They are ridiculing the poor girl because she has no clothes to wear to the party. The same is reflected in Hoffman (1998) when the author states that “………they were mean to their stepsister, Ella……” (p. 6). Here, the narrator is trying to portray the evil character of the two stepsisters and their mother.

Feminist theorists have argued that most of the evil characters in children literature are female (Evans 2009), a point that is obvious in all the fairy tales I selected for this analysis. The evil characters here are the two stepsisters and their mother. However, it is also important to note that the good characters in Cinderella are also female. I think this fact will pacify feminists such as Chodorow (2009) who argue that most children literature portray women as evil.

Pragmatic Signals

Jahn (2005) defines pragmatic signals as “expressions (that) signal the narrator’s awareness of an audience (and the) degree of their orientation towards (the audience)” (pp. 9). The fairy tales selected for this essay contain these pragmatic signals. Consider the opening statement in Taylor (n.d): “Cinderella lived with her stepmother and stepsisters. Her (Cinderella’s) stepmother and stepsisters made her do all the housework…” (p. 8). This statement proves that the Taylor is aware of her audience and is addressing herself to them (Collins & Graham 2001). She adopts a conversational tone between her and the children reading her version of Cinderella.

The Presence of the Narrator in the Fairy Tales

I believe feminists will be happy with the fairy tales I selected for this essay given the fact that they are all written by female authors. In fact, even the illustrators in the books I selected are female. As if this was not enough, I also selected a fairy tale with main characters that are female. You will also note that I have made efforts to grammatically gender the narrator in the fairy tales. I have avoided a generic ‘he’ even when referring to the characters that have no known gender such as animals.

In cases where there are no in-text clues as to the sex of the narrator (which is rare in this essay), I have applied the ‘Lanser rule’ as explained by Jahn (2005). Using this rule, I assume that a narrator is male if the author is male and female if the author is female in cases where there are no in-text clues (Krashen 2004). That is the reason why I assume all the narrators in the three fairy tales are female given the fact that the stories are written by female authors.

Going back to the issue of presence of the narrator in the text, Meister et al. (2005) makes a distinction between overt and covert narrators. I will use this distinction to analyse the three fairy tales.

Overt Narrator

This is the narrator who makes a reference to themselves in the narration. They may use the first person narrative indicators such as ‘I’ or ‘we’, or address the narratee within the text. Such a narrator may also opt for conative and appellative discourse function throughout the narrative (Jahn 2005).

All the three fairy tales selected for this essay lack an overt narrator. All the stories are told in the third person narrative with the narrator stepping out of the story. The opening statement in Taylor (n.d) makes this clear. She starts by saying that “Cinderella lived with her (stepfamily)…….” (p. 8). She clearly steps out of the story and makes it clear that she is not an overt narrator.

Covert Narrator

This type of narrator lacks all the traits associated with an overt narrator (Krashen 2004). The narrator in this case uses a neutral voice and style and most of the narrative is sexually indeterminate (Jahn 2005). The narrator fails to immerse herself in the story that she is giving.

This is what happens in all the three fairy tales selected. The narrator steps back and lets the story unfurl without their intervention. You will realise that there are no “I’s” and “we’s” in all the three stories that I selected.

However, it is noted that some narratives combine the two aspects in varying degrees. In such a story, the narrator may be more covert but exhibit some degree of overtness (Jahn 2005). However, in all of the three narratives, the two aspects vary in inverse proportions. This means that the presence of covertness indicates the absence of overtness and vice versa (Jahn 2005).

Homodiegetic vs. Heterodiegetic Narratives

Jahn (2005) tries to differentiate between the two components above. A homodiegetic narrative is told by a narrator who takes part in the story (Jahn 2005). On the other hand, heterodiegetic narrative is characterised by a narrator who is absent. It is noted that all the stories I selected for this essay are told by a heterodiegetic narrator. The narrator steps out of the story and they are not in any way involved in creating or experiencing the events. Hoffman (1998) is not a character in her version of Cinderella. The same applies to Southgate (n.d) and Taylor (n.d). As I have indicated earlier in this essay, all the three authors step out of the story and let it unfold on its own. The narrator is not involved in any way in the development of the issues in the story (McCorqudale 2009).

Focalisation in the Fairy Tales Selected

Jahn (2005) and Barry (2009) are of the view that a focaliser is the character whose point of view is used in directing the narrative. All the narratives I selected adopt a fixed form of focalisation where the story is told from the perspective of a single character. Hoffman (1998), Taylor (n.d) and Southgate (n.d) tell the story from the perspective of Cinderella. This being the case, I can argue that Cinderella is the focaliser in all the three stories. Maybe the reason why this is also is given the fact that the story revolves around Cinderella.

Characters and Characterisation in the Three Cinderella Fairy Tales Selected

According to Jahn (2005), characterisation is one of the most important aspects of narratology theory. In characterisation, the researcher tries to assess how the narrator creates and develops the personality of the characters they use in the narrative. According to Jahn (2005), the researcher using narratology must ask themselves which subject characterises which object and how. Characterisation has 3 main elements:

Narratorial vs. Figural Characterisation

According to Jahn (2005), the characterising subject in narratorial characterisation is the narrator. It is the narrator who gives the objects in the narrative personality traits. This is what happens in all the three narratives selected. It is the narrator who gives the protagonist Cinderella a personality by describing her as fair, beautiful and kind. On the other hand, figural characterisation is the opposite of narratorial. This is given the fact the characterising subject in such a narrative is a character. This is not evident in the three fairy tales I selected.

Explicit vs. Implicit Characterisation

Jahn (2005) distinguishes between these two approaches. In explicit characterisation, the personality traits of the subjects in the narrative are developed by the narrator using words (Jahn 2005). Implicit characterisation is quite different. According to Jahn (2005), it takes place when the personality traits of the subjects in the narrative are brought out by the acts of other characters. The three fairy tales seem to combine both explicit and implicit characterisation.

The three narrators describe Cinderella as “…..a lovely child” (Southgate n.d: p. 6) while the stepsisters are described as “…..bad-tempered and unkind” (Southgate n.d: p. 6). This is explicit characterisation. However, there are indications of implicit characterisation in the three narratives. For example, the fairy godmother helps the poor child because she is kind and innocent. This is implicit characterisation.

Auto-Characterisation vs. Altero-Characterisation

In auto-characterisation, the characterising subject characterise themselves (Jahn 2005). On the other hand, altero-characterisation is where the characterising subject characterises something or someone else. All the three fairy tales selected seems to adopt an altero-characterisation approach. You will note that all the three narrators in these fairy tales are not characterising themselves; rather, they characterising and qualifying characters in their narratives.

Relevant Social and Historical Issues

It is noted that the original version of Cinderella was written in the 18th and 19th centuries. This being the case, the narrative addresses the social issues that were found in those societies at the time. Those societies were characterised by the rule of kings whereby a son would inherit leadership from his father. This is why the story revolves around a prince and a princess. This being the case, the various versions of Cinderella have retained this element in an effort to remain true to the original version.

The protagonist in this story is a little girl who is beautiful and kind. She is married to a prince and she goes to live in the palace with him. This is an indication of the fact that kings, palaces, princes and princesses were important aspects of the society at that time. This is why they are reflected here.

Marriage was also a very important aspect in these societies. This is the reason why the fairy tales have happy endings where the protagonist lives ‘happily ever after’ with the prince (Gibbs 2003). Cinderella is married by the prince. The party held by the king in his palace was meant to help his son select a bride. This is how important marriage was in this society.

From a feminist perspective, it is also noted that the societies within which most fairy tales are set treat women as the weaker sex (Nikolayeva & Scott 2006). The women are always portrayed as weak and fragile and needing protection from the men (Kolmar & Bartowski 2005). This is something that I have noted with almost all the fairy tales that I have read. To this end, the female protagonist in these fairy tales has to be rescued by a prince. It is the prince that transforms the life of Cinderella, carrying her away from the evil perpetrated by her stepfamily.

It is noted that despite the fact that the fairy tales revolve around fantasies, they have some elements of reality in them (Krashen 2004). I think this is the only way they can appeal to the child. This is given that the child is able to relate the fantasy to the reality around them. This is the reason why the fairy tales address some social and historical elements that are relevant to that particular society.

Implications for Practice


In the section above, I critically analysed the three fairy tales from a narratology and feminist perspective. The various narratological aspects of the three fairy tales were identified as well as the relationship between the fairy tales and feminism.

In this section, I am going to provide an analysis of the implications of the critical analysis provided above on adults sharing the three fairy tales with children. This is either in an educational or home context. In an educational context, the implications may be on teachers who are sharing the fairy tales with their pupils (Krashen 2004). This is for example when I am sharing the stories with my class of children who have hearing problems. In a home context, the implications may be on parents and other family members sharing the three fairy tales with the children.

Implications for Adults

Adults at Home

It is noted that folklore, fairy tales and mythology are very important in early childhood development (Collins & Graham 2001). Most adults at home share fairy tales with their children by reading the stories to them for example at night. This is a source of entertainment for the children and it creates a special bond between the child and the storyteller (Anderson 2000). To this end, it is noted that parents may be unconsciously applying principles of narratology theory in selecting stories for their children. I believe that the parent will consider the various aspects of the story before selecting it for their child. The parents consider the character in the stories, the moral of the story and how this will affect their children. I think this is narratology that is being put to work here.

This critical analysis will help the parent in selecting a fairy tale that can effectively entertain their children. This is so given the fact that the essay identifies the major attributes of a fairy tale that the parent can use in the selection. For example, the parent may opt to go for a fairy tale with multiple or variant focalisation to maximise the effects it has on the children.

Adults in School

Teachers like me have realised that fairy tales are crucial in early childhood development. Apart from entertaining the children, fairy tales provide them with a sense of imagination (Sipe & Pantaleo 2008). As such, the teacher is able to use this critical analysis in selecting a story that can help a child achieve this. Imagination is related to creativity. By using their imaginative ability, the children become creative. It is noted that even children with hearing impairment have imaginations just like their counterparts without hearing problems. When such stories are read out to them, they can be very imaginative (Eisner 2008).

It is also noted that most fairy tales are characterised by morals (Bearne &Watson 2000). They can be very important tools for inculcating morality among children. In most cases, the fairy tales provides a scenario where good defeats evil. This is what happens when Cinderella overcomes the evil of her stepsisters and stepmother.

Adults in this case can use narratology to select appropriate fairy tales for the children. It is through the analysis of the narrative structure of a story that an adult is able to discern the nature of the characters and the moral of the story. I believe this critical essay will go a long way in helping the adults carry out such a selection.


In this essay, I critically analysed three Cinderella fairy tales using narratology and feminist theories. I started by analysing fairy tales as a genre in children literature. I noted that fairy tales are characterised by the presence of fairies, goblins, dwarves, elves and such other magical characters. This is an aspect that was present in all the three texts I selected for this critical analysis.

I then went ahead to provide an overview of narratology. This was defined as that form of literary criticism that takes into consideration the structure of the narrative and how that structure influences the perception of the audience. Given the fact that the essay was dealing with children literature, I sought to find out how the structure affected the perception of the child.

Feminist theory was also analysed. I explained this theory as a form of literary criticism that takes into consideration how women are treated by a given text. This includes how the narrator handles women characters and how issues to do with women are handled in the narrative.

All the three fairy tales were proved to be narratives. It was also found that they contained female characters playing either a leading role. The lead character in this case was Cinderella. It was also found that the fairy tales adopted a fixed focalised structure where the story is told from the perspective of a single character. The stories in this case are told from the perspective of Cinderella who is also the main character. This critical analysis essay was also found to have various implications for adults sharing the fairy tales with children at home or at school. The critical analysis will help the adults in selecting fairy tales suitable for their children audience.


References for the Fairy Tales

Hoffman, M 1998, A first book of fairy tales, London, Shivani.

Southgate, V n.d., Cinderella ladybird tales, London, Bifco Ltd.

Taylor, G n.d., Read it yourself with ladybird: Cinderella, London, Shivani.

References for the Rest of the Paper

Anderson, G 2000, Fairy tale in the ancient world, New York, Routledge.

Arizpe, E & Styles, M 2003, Children reading pictures: Interpreting visual texts, London, Routledge.

Barry, P 2009, Beginning theory: An introduction to literary and critical theory, Manchester, Manchester University Press.

Bearne, E & Watson, V 2000, Where texts and children meet, London, Routledge.

Chambers, A 2011, Tell me (children reading and talking) with the reading environment, Gloucester, Thimble Press.

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