Fairy tale stories such as Cinderella stories must be taught to young children as they are one of the best ways to tell the children about the surrounding world. Cinderella stories form an excellent literature study aiming at character education.
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You can find different versions of the Cinderella stories. There are many common and uncommon things between the different versions of the Cinderella story given in the book “Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum”. Though all the versions of Cinderella choose different methods of delivering the story, they all aim at teaching lessons in morality.
“Cinderella” by Charles Perrault is a version of the Cinderella story which is possibly most familiar to present-day readers. In fact, Perrault’s version of Cinderella turns out to be the dominant version in Western culture. “Perrault is widely suspected of having changed the story in an effort to make it more acceptable to his audience—members of the French court” (Behrens, and Rosen Ch.12). Perrault’s version of Cinderella preserves the spirit of the original story while making it better to be easily accessible to the readers of the present world. This version has beautiful illustrations and is easy to read. The Grimm Brothers’ version of Cinderella called “Ashputtle” is a literary rework of the original story. In the “Introduction to ‘Ashputtle’” provided in the book “Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum”, authors Laurence Behrens and Leonard J. Rosen write, “ The Grimm Brothers kept most of the core story intact while collecting multiple accounts of translated folk tales to piece together as one story” (Behrens, and Rosen 552–53). “‘Cinderella’: A Story of Sibling Rivalry and Oedipal Conflicts,” by Bruno Bettelheim focuses mainly on the sibling rivalry that may encounter many children at a young age. Cinderella Walt Disney by Grant Campbell is a poetic approach to the Cinderella story.
Many similarities exist between the different versions of Cinderella stories given in the book “Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum”, except for some characters and events. Perrault’s version of Cinderella gained more popularity among the readers because of the introduction of the pumpkin, the fairy godmother, and the glass slippers. “It was widely believed that in Perrault’s version, Cinderella wore fur boots (“pantoufle en vair”), and that when the story was translated into English, vair was mistaken for Verre (glass), resulting in glass slippers and that the story has remained this way ever since” (Basile). Whereas in the Grimm Brother’s version of Cinderella, it was not the Fairy Godmother but was Cinderella’s birthmother’s spirit that helped in changing the miserable life of Cinderella. Cinderella’s birthmother’s spirit appeared through two birds from a tree over the mother’s grave. On the other hand, in the Cinderella version given by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, it happens to be the wishing tree that helps Cinderella and not the Fairy Godmother. The wishing tree that helps Cinderella in this version grows on her mother’s grave.
Perrault’s Cinderella version begins with the father marrying a new woman without revealing the fate of Cinderella’s birth mother, and creates her father as a nobleman who lacked the will to protect Cinderella from the step-family’s abuse (Perrault 549). Whereas the Grimm Brothers’ version of Cinderella begins with the misery, sickness, and death of the birth mother of Cinderella, and creates the father character as a man who completely refuses to give any real love or appreciation to Cinderella.
Like the other versions of Cinderella story, Perrault’s version of Cinderella also spotlights the challenges faced by the poor Cinderella in the blended family, sibling rivalry, the interaction between the siblings, identity and spiritual crisis, stepmother’s unpleasant attitude towards Cinderella, magical vanity mirrors, etc. In all the versions, the heroine who is Cinderella experienced a miserable life in the blended family and dreamed of appearing in public. Further, in all the versions, some sort of supernatural power or event relieved Cinderella’s grief by making her appear in extremely beautiful clothing and satisfied her desire to participate in the ball. In Perrault’s version, the Fairy Godmother who magically appeared promised Cinderella to help in attending the ball as per her desire, and changed a pumpkin into a coach, a rat into a coachman, mice into horses, lizards into footmen, and Cinderella’s rags into a beautiful gown. The Fairy Godmother also gave her a beautiful pair of glass slippers (“Cinderella”).
Cinderella was ill-treated by her step-mother and her step-sisters. She faced problems and challenges in her stepfamily. Like in most of the unsuccessful stepfamilies, Cinderella also faced the challenges of confusion, grief, jealousy, frustration, and anger in her stepfamily. She was forced to do all the household works and was not even allowed to wear a good dress. Cinderella’s stepfamily denied her every enjoyment in life and even did not allow her to attend the ball conducted by the prince. They even opposed when she revealed her desire to try the slipper.
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Sibling rivalry may encounter many children even in a normal family. There is no doubt that sibling rivalry occurred in Cinderella’s stepfamily. The stepmother appears as a very cruel woman in all versions of Cinderella. This is very clear from the fact that she gave good food, clothes, and shelter only to her own daughters. She made her step-daughter Cinderella do all the household works, gave rags as dresses for Cinderella, and even made Cinderella sleep at the Cinder bottom.
In all the versions of the story, the father figure is given less significance and is almost entirely absent. In all the versions, the father does not interfere when the stepmother ill-treats Cinderella. Perrault’s version of Cinderella introduces the father as “a worthy man who married for his second wife the haughtiest, a proudest woman that had ever been seen” (Hallett 39). Of all the other Cinderella versions, Grimm’s version of the story offers the father the largest role. The father role in the Cinderella Walt Disney by Grant Campbell dies in the introduction of the story.
In the Grimm brothers’ version of the Cinderella story, Cinderella’s bird friends alert the prince about the step-sisters’ trick and peck out the step-sisters’ eyes so that they remain blind for the rest of their lives. This punishment is reasonable to some extent when we understand the deep cruelty done by the step-sisters towards Cinderella. Perrault emphasizes the theme “turn the other cheek, and love even thy enemies” (Perrault 552) in his version of Cinderella. Cinderella finally entered a new happy life with love, prosperity, and status, after successfully facing her painful years. When she got a happy life, she showed only love and no antagonism towards her step-sisters. She was able to forgive her step-sisters and did her best to make them happy.
All Cinderella versions give a good message to children and adults. The story emphasizes that those who have survived the challenges of agony in life will not fail in life. All the versions of the story emphasize that you will be punished or rewarded based on your actions. The story also emphasizes forgive and love even unkind people and enemies.
Basile, Giambattista. Cenerentola in Pentamerone. n.d.
Behrens, Laurence, and Leonard J. Rosen. Writing and Reading across the Curriculum. 10th Edition. New York: Pearson and Longman, 2007. Web.
Behrens, Laurence, and Leonard J. Rosen. “Introduction to ‘Ashputtle’.” Writing and Reading across the Curriculum. Eds. Laurence Behrens, and Leonard J. Rosen. 9th Edition. New York: Pearson Longman, 2005. 552–553.
“Cinderella.” 2009. Web.
Hallett, Martin and Barbara Karasek. Folk and Fairy Tales: third Edition. Peterborough: Broadview Press, 2002.
Perrault, Charles. “Cinderella.” Writing and Reading across the Curriculum. 9th Edition. Eds. Laurence Behrens, and Leonard J. Rosen. New York: Pearson Longman, 2005. 548–52.