Cinderella Fleeing the Ball by "Anne Anderson
|Also known as||"Dutch: Assepoester
|"Aarne-Thompson grouping||ATU 510 A (Persecuted Heroine)|
Cinderella ("Italian: Cenerentola, "French: Cendrillon, "German: Aschenputtel), or The Little Glass Slipper, is a "folk tale embodying a "myth-element of unjust oppression and triumphant reward. Thousands of variants are known throughout the world. The title character is a young woman living in unfortunate circumstances, that are suddenly changed to remarkable fortune. The story of "Rhodopis, recounted by the Greek geographer "Strabo in around 7 BC, about a Greek slave girl who marries the king of Egypt, is usually considered as the earliest known variant of the Cinderella story. The first literary European version of the story was published in "Italy by "Giambattista Basile in his "Pentamerone in 1634; the most popular version was published by "Charles Perrault in "Histoires ou contes du temps passé in 1697, and later by the "Brothers Grimm in their folk tale collection "Grimms' Fairy Tales in 1812.
Although the story's title and main character's name change in different languages, in English-language folklore Cinderella is the archetypal name. The word Cinderella has, by analogy, come to mean one whose attributes were unrecognized, or one who unexpectedly achieves recognition or success after a period of obscurity and neglect. The still-popular story of Cinderella continues to influence popular culture internationally, lending plot elements, "allusions, and "tropes to a wide variety of media. The "Aarne-Thompson-Uther system classifies Cinderella as Tale Type 510A, Persecuted Heroine.:24-26
The oldest known version of the Cinderella story is the ancient Greek story of "Rhodopis, a "Greek "courtesan living in the "colony of "Naucratis in "Egypt, whose name means "Rosy-Cheeks". The story is first recorded by the "Greek geographer "Strabo in his "Geographica (book 17, 33), probably written around 7 BC or thereabouts::27
They tell the fabulous story that, when she was bathing, an eagle snatched one of her sandals from her maid and carried it to "Memphis; and while the king was administering justice in the open air, the eagle, when it arrived above his head, flung the sandal into his lap; and the king, stirred both by the beautiful shape of the sandal and by the strangeness of the occurrence, sent men in all directions into the country in quest of the woman who wore the sandal; and when she was found in the city of Naucratis, she was brought up to Memphis, became the wife of the king ...
The same story is also later reported by the Roman orator "Aelian (ca. 175–ca. 235) in his Miscellaneous History, which was written entirely in Greek. Aelian's story closely resembles the story told by Strabo, but adds that the name of the pharaoh in question was Psammetichus. Aelian's account indicates that the story of Rhodopis remained popular throughout "antiquity.
"Herodotus, some five centuries before Strabo, records a popular legend about a possibly-related courtesan named "Rhodopis in his "Histories,:27 claiming that Rhodopis came from "Thrace, and was the slave of Iadmon of "Samos, and a fellow-slave of the story-teller "Aesop and that she was taken to Egypt in the time of "Pharaoh "Amasis, and freed there for a large sum by Charaxus of "Mytilene, brother of "Sappho the lyric poet.:27-28
The twelfth-century AD "lai of "Le Fresne ("The Ash-Tree Girl"), retold by "Marie de France, is a variant of the "Cinderella" story:41 in which a wealthy noblewoman abandons her infant daughter at the base of an "ash tree outside a nunnery with a ring and "brocade as tokens of her identity,:41 because she is one of twin sisters:41 the mother fears that she will be accused of infidelity:41 (according to popular belief, twins were evidence of two different fathers). The infant is discovered by the porter, who names her Fresne, meaning "Ash Tree",:41 and she is raised by the nuns.:41 After she has attained maturity, a young nobleman sees her and becomes her lover.:41 The nobleman, however, is forced to marry a woman of noble birth.:41 Fresne accepts that she will never marry her beloved,:41 but waits in the wedding chamber as a handmaiden.:41 She covers the bed with her own brocade,:41 but, unbeknownst to her, her beloved's bride is actually her twin sister,:41 and her mother recognizes the brocade as the same one she had given to the daughter she had abandoned so many years before.:41 Fresne's true parentage is revealed:41 and, as a result of her noble birth, she is allowed to marry her beloved,:41 while her twin sister is married to a different nobleman.:41
A version of the story, "Ye Xian, appeared in "Miscellaneous Morsels from Youyang by "Duan Chengshi around 860. In this version, the protagonist is Ye Xian, a hardworking and lovely girl, who befriends a fish, which is the reincarnation of her deceased mother. Her stepmother and sister kill the fish, but Ye Xian saves the bones, which are magic, and they help her dress appropriately for the New Year Festival. Her stepfamily recognizes her at the festival, causing her to flee and accidentally lose her slipper. Afterwards, the king finds her slipper and falls in love with her (eventually rescuing her from her cruel stepmother). Variants of the story are also found in many ethnic groups in China.
Several different variants of the story appear in the medieval "One Thousand and One Nights, also known as the Arabian Nights, including "The Second Shaykh's Story", "The Eldest Lady's Tale" and "Abdallah ibn Fadil and His Brothers", all dealing with the theme of a younger sibling harassed by two jealous elders. In some of these, the siblings are female, while in others, they are male. One of the tales, "Judar and His Brethren", departs from the "happy endings of previous variants and reworks the plot to give it a "tragic ending instead, with the younger brother being poisoned by his elder brothers.
"The Story of Tam and Cam, from "Vietnam, is similar to the Chinese version. The heroine Tấm also had a fish which was killed by the stepmother and the half-sister, and its bones also give her clothes. Later after marrying the king, Tấm was killed by her stepmother and sister, and reincarnated several times in form of a bird, a loom and a ""gold apple". She finally reunited with the king and lived happily ever after.
The first written European version of the story was published in Napoli (Naples), Italy, by "Giambattista Basile, in his "Pentamerone (1634). The story itself was based in the "Kingdom of Naples, at that time the most important political and cultural center of "Southern Italy and among the most influential capitals in Europe, and written in the "Neapolitan dialect. It was later retold, along with other Basile tales, by "Charles Perrault in "Histoires ou contes du temps passé (1697), and by the "Brothers Grimm in their folk tale collection "Grimms' Fairy Tales (1812).
The name "Cenerentola" comes from the Italian word "cenere" (ash, cinder). It has to do with the fact that servants and scullions were usually soiled with ash at that time, because of their cleaning work and also because they had to live in cold basements so they usually tried to get warm by sitting close to the fireplace.
"Giambattista Basile, an Italian soldier and government official, assembled a set of oral folk tales into a written collection titled Lo cunto de li cunti (The Story of Stories), or "Pentamerone. It included the tale of Cenerentola, which features a wicked stepmother and evil stepsisters, magical transformations, a missing slipper, and a hunt by a monarch for the owner of the slipper. It was published posthumously in 1634.
One of the most popular versions of Cinderella was written in French by "Charles Perrault in 1697, under the name Cendrillon. The popularity of his tale was due to his additions to the story, including the "pumpkin, the fairy-godmother and the introduction of "glass" slippers.
The first moral of the story is that beauty is a treasure, but graciousness is priceless. Without it, nothing is possible; with it, one can do anything.
However, the second moral of the story mitigates the first one and reveals the criticism that Perrault is aiming at: That "without doubt it is a great advantage to have intelligence, courage, good breeding, and common sense. These, and similar talents come only from heaven, and it is good to have them. However, even these may fail to bring you success, without the blessing of a godfather or a godmother."
Another well-known version was recorded by the German brothers "Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm in the 19th century. The tale is called "Aschenputtel" ("Cinderella" in English translations). This version is much more intense than that of Perrault and Disney, in that Cinderella's father did not die and the stepsisters mutilate their feet to fit in the golden slipper. There is no fairy godmother, but rather help comes from a wishing tree that the heroine planted on her mother's grave. The stepsisters suffer a terrible punishment for their cruelty.
Aschenputtel's relationship with her father in this version is ambiguous; "Perrault's version states that the absent father is dominated by his second wife, explaining why he does not prevent the abuse of his daughter. However, the father in this tale plays an active role in several scenes, and it is not explained why he tolerates the mistreatment of his child. He also describes Aschenputtel as his "first wife's child" and not his own.
Villains: In some versions, her father plays an active role in the humiliation of his daughter; in others, he is secondary to his new wife, Cinderella's stepmother; in some versions, especially the popular "Disney film, Cinderella's father has died and Cinderella's mother has died also.
Although many variants of Cinderella feature the wicked stepmother, the defining trait of type "510A is a female persecutor: in "Fair, Brown and Trembling and "Finette Cendron, the stepmother does not appear at all, and it is the older sisters who confine her to the kitchen. In other fairy tales featuring the ball, she was driven from home by the persecutions of her father, usually because he wished to marry her. Of this type (510B) are "Cap O' Rushes, "Catskin, All-Kinds-of-Fur, and "Allerleirauh, and she slaves in the kitchen because she found a job there. In "Katie Woodencloak, the stepmother drives her from home, and she likewise finds such a job.
In "La Cenerentola, "Gioachino Rossini inverted the sex roles: Cenerentola is oppressed by her "stepfather. (This makes the opera Aarne-Thompson type 510B.) He also made the economic basis for such hostility unusually clear, in that Don Magnifico wishes to make his own daughters' "dowries larger, to attract a grander match, which is impossible if he must provide a third dowry. Folklorists often interpret the hostility between the stepmother and stepdaughter as just such a competition for resources, but seldom does the tale make it clear.
Ball, Ballgown, and Curfew: The number of balls varies, sometimes one, sometimes two, and sometimes three. The "fairy godmother is Perrault's own addition to the tale. The person who aided Cinderella (Aschenputtel) in the "Grimms's version is her dead mother. Aschenputtel requests her aid by praying at her grave, on which a tree is growing. Helpful doves roosting in the tree shake down the clothing she needs for the ball. This motif is found in other variants of the tale as well, such as The Cinder Maid, collected by "Joseph Jacobs, and the Finnish "The Wonderful Birch. Playwright "James Lapine incorporated this motif into the Cinderella plotline of the musical "Into the Woods. "Giambattista Basile's "Cenerentola combined them; the Cinderella figure, Zezolla, asks her father to commend her to the Dove of Fairies and ask her to send her something, and she receives a tree that will provide her clothing. Other variants have her helped by talking animals, as in "Katie Woodencloak, "Rushen Coatie, "Bawang Putih Bawang Merah, "The Story of Tam and Cam, or "The Sharp Grey Sheep—these animals often having some connection with her dead mother; in "The Golden Slipper, a fish aids her after she puts it in water. In "The Anklet", it's a magical alabaster pot the girl purchased with her own money that brings her the gowns and the anklets she wears to the ball. "Gioachino Rossini, having agreed to do an opera based on Cinderella if he could omit all magical elements, wrote "La Cenerentola, in which she was aided by Alidoro, a philosopher and formerly the Prince's tutor.
The midnight curfew is also absent in many versions; Cinderella leaves the ball to get home before her stepmother and stepsisters, or she is simply tired. In the Grimms' version, Aschenputtel slips away when she is tired, hiding on her father's estate in a tree, and then the pigeon coop, to elude her pursuers; her father tries to catch her by chopping them down, but she escapes.
Furthermore, the gathering need not be a ball; several variants on Cinderella, such as Katie Woodencloak and The Golden Slipper have her attend church.
In the three-ball version, Cinderella keeps a close watch on the time the first two nights and is able to leave without difficulty. However, on the "third (or only) night, she loses track of the time and must flee the castle before her disguise vanishes. In her haste, she loses a glass slipper which the prince finds—or else the prince has carefully had her exit tarred, so as to catch her, and the slipper is caught in it.
The identifying item: The glass slipper is unique to "Charles Perrault's version and its derivatives; in other versions of the tale it may be made of other materials (in the version recorded by the "Brothers Grimm, "German: Aschenbroedel and Aschenputtel, for instance, it is gold) and in still other tellings, it is not a slipper but an anklet, a ring, or a bracelet that gives the prince the key to Cinderella's identity. In Rossini's opera ""La Cenerentola" ("Cinderella"), the slipper is replaced by twin bracelets to prove her identity. In the Finnish variant "The Wonderful Birch the prince uses tar to gain something every ball, and so has a ring, a circlet, and a pair of slippers. Interpreters unaware of the value attached to glass in 17th century France and perhaps troubled by sartorial impracticalities, have suggested that Perrault's "glass slipper" (pantoufle de verre) had been a "squirrel fur slipper" (pantoufle de vair) in some unidentified earlier version of the tale, and that Perrault or one of his sources confused the words; however, most scholars believe the glass slipper was a deliberate piece of poetic invention on Perrault's part. The "1950 Disney adaptation takes advantage of the slipper being made of glass to add a twist whereby the slipper is shattered just before Cinderella has the chance to try it on, leaving her with only the matching slipper with which to prove her identity.
Another interpretation of verre/vair (glass/fur) suggested a sexual element—the Prince was 'trying on' the 'fur slipper' (vagina) of the maidens in the kingdom, as a '"Droit du seigneur' right of sexual possession of his subjects. The disguised Cinderella's 'fur slipper' was of unique appeal to the Prince who sought her thereafter through sexual congress (a variety of sources including Joan Gould).
The translation of the story into cultures with different standards of beauty has left the significance of Cinderella's shoe size unclear, and resulted in the implausibility of Cinderella's feet being of a unique size for no particular reason. Humorous retellings of the story sometimes use the twist of having the shoes turn out to also fit somebody completely unsuitable, such as an amorous old crone. In "Terry Pratchett's "Witches Abroad, the witches accuse another witch of manipulating the events because it was a common shoe size, and she could only ensure that the right woman put it on if she already knew where she was and went straight to her. In "When the Clock Strikes" (from Red As Blood), "Tanith Lee had the sorcerous shoe alter shape whenever a woman tried to put it on, so it would not fit.
The Revelation: Cinderella's stepmother and "stepsisters (in some versions just the stepsisters and, in some other versions, a stepfather and stepsisters) conspire to win the prince's hand for one of them. In the German telling, the first stepsister fits into the slipper by cutting off a toe, but the doves in the hazel tree alert the prince to the blood dripping from the slipper, and he returns the false bride to her mother. The second stepsister fits into the slipper by cutting off her heel, but the same doves give her away.
In many variants of the tale, the prince is told that Cinderella can not possibly be the one, as she is too dirty and ragged. Often, this is said by the stepmother or stepsisters. In the Grimms' version, both the stepmother and the father urge it. The prince nevertheless insists on her trying. Cinderella arrives and proves her identity by fitting into the slipper or other item (in some cases she has kept the other).
The Conclusion: In the German version of the story, the evil stepsisters are punished for their deception by having their eyes pecked out by birds. In other versions, they are forgiven, and made ladies-in-waiting with marriages to lesser lords.
In "The Thousand Nights and A Night, in a tale called "The Anklet", the stepsisters make a comeback by using twelve magical hairpins to turn the bride into a dove on her wedding night. In "The Wonderful Birch, the stepmother, a witch, manages to substitute her daughter for the true bride after she has given birth. Such tales continue the fairy tale into what is in effect a second episode.
In an episode of "Jim Henson's "The Storyteller, writer "Anthony Minghella merged the old folk tale "Donkeyskin (also written by Perrault) with Cinderella to tell the tale of Sapsorrow, a girl both cursed and blessed by destiny.
Many popular new works based on the story feature one step-sister who is not as cruel to Cinderella as the other. Examples are the film Ever After, Cinderella 3 and the Broadway revival.
Folklorists have long studied variants on this tale across cultures. In 1893, "Marian Roalfe Cox, commissioned by "the Folklore Society of Britain, produced Cinderella: Three Hundred and Forty-Five Variants of Cinderella, Catskin and, Cap o'Rushes, Abstracted and Tabulated with a Discussion of Medieval Analogues and Notes.
The "Aarne–Thompson-Uther system classifies Cinderella as type 510A, "Persecuted Heroine". Others of this type include "The Sharp Grey Sheep; "The Golden Slipper; "The Story of Tam and Cam; "Rushen Coatie; "The Wonderful Birch; "Fair, Brown and Trembling; and "Katie Woodencloak.
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