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Origins of Cinderella

Niina is a folklorist and a storyteller who loves to research and explore myths from all around the world.


Cinderella From Vietnam

In 823 AD, an exact rendition of the tale made its debut in China. The writer learned about it through his Vietnamese-born helper. Cinderella belonged to the cave clan in the tale. In the past, various ethnic groups in Vietnam frequently lived in caves. Some of these caves contained entire ecosystems, such as forests and lakes.

Cinderella's father had two wives, as was customary. When Cinderella was a young girl, her mother died; a few years later, so did her father. Cinderella was treated cruelly by her stepmother and two stepsisters, who made her serve as their servant. One day, she was crying by the pond in despair when a huge goldfish began to speak to her. Cinderella and the goldfish quickly grew close, and the fish was always there to soothe her.

Stepmother became indignant when she saw Cinderella embracing the goldfish one day. She instructed the chef to kill the goldfish and make supper out of it. Cinderella's heart was devastated when she learned what had transpired. The mountain's soul manifested itself to her as an elderly man while she was grieving. He instructed Cinderella to remove the goldfish's bones and hide them in her room. She only needed to communicate with the bones whenever she had a request, and it would be granted.

Cinderella requested a dress and shoes because a wonderful ball was approaching. She received a stunning garment made of king fisher feathers and teeny, delicate golden shoes after the bones granted her request. Cinderella attended the dance. She had a lovely day there, but she had misplaced one of the golden shoes by the time she got home.

A male member of her tribe discovered the shoe and was impressed by its beauty. The man believed that the king would value such a lovely shoe. In order to give the shoe to the monarch, he set the ship for the neighbouring realm. The shoe's beauty astounded the king, who then commanded all of his attendants to find the maiden that the shoe would fit. They lived happily ever after once the king discovered Cinderella and requested her hand in marriage.


Cinderella In Italy

China conducted business with India, Malaysia, and Indonesia. With the help of traders, the tale travelled from these nations to Europe. In Naples, around the 1630s, Cinderella made her debut in Europe. Italian author and storyteller Giambattista Basile revised the tale. Il Pentamerone, Cinderella's story collection, contains children's stories. The book's title may be deceptive. These were crude tales, only fit for adults.

The story begins similarly to the Vietnamese folk tale. Father remarries after the mother of Cinderella passes away. As soon as she realizes how awful her stepmother is, she and her governess murder her. When the father weds the governess, the plot becomes more complex. The new stepmother proves to be even harsher than the old one. She also has two stepsisters who tease her and make her sit by the cinders; as a result, she has the well-known moniker Cinderella.


Perrault's Cinderella

Charles Perrault, a French creator of fairy tales, is credited with creating the most well-known version of Cinderella. In 1697, Cendrillon first appeared. All the well-known components are there in his rendition, including the clock striking midnight, pumpkins, and, most importantly, the glass slipper. Compared to Basile's Cinderella, Perrault's version is less bloody. She is, nevertheless, incredibly nice and submissive. Even her nasty stepsisters find spouses when she eventually marries the prince.

The court of Louis XIV (or the "Sun King") designated Perrault as the official fairy tale author. In the 17th century, France was a fervently Catholic nation; thus, all fairy tales had to impart moral lessons and contain nothing questionable or inappropriate. The colourful literary style of Perrault reveals much about human nature.

The Origins of Fairytales

Brothers Grimm, Disney, and Myths

Brothers Grimm

Beginning in the early 19th century, the Brothers Grimm decided to include Cinderella in their catalog of fairy tales. They were initially hesitant since they mostly thought of Cinderella as a French fairy tale. In doing so, they improved Cinderella's compatibility with the Germanic fairy tale tradition.

Cinderella in Grimm's Brothers was no longer the daughter of a count; instead, she was the daughter of a merchant, and they lived in a rural area rather than a town. Their portrayal of Cinderella is ominous and cruel. When Cinderella is married, white doves fall from the sky and tear the stepsisters' eyes out, rendering them blind for the rest of their unhappy lives. The stepsisters did this so that the glass slipper would fit.


Cinderella in Folk Tales

The folk tale is a story that has been told orally by generation after generation. In many cultures, folk tales can be traced to myths and legends, but when it comes to some of the world’s most famous fairy tales, they have also become folk tales. From Europe alone, one can find over 500 folk tale versions of Cinderella. Interestingly enough, in Finland and Sweden, there are folk tales about a male Cinderella who has an evil stepfather and two stepbrothers, and he falls in love with a girl who is way above his social status.


Cinderella in Movies

Over 100 film and television adaptations of Cinderella have been produced. The most well-known is Disney animation, which dates to 1950. Disney Animation Studios were broke and on the verge of bankruptcy after World War II. Cinderella's commercial success assisted the studio's recovery.

Disney's Cinderella is based on Charles Perrault's fairy tale. While the film is fairly faithful to the plot, Cinderella isn't quite as submissive in the animation as in Perrault's narrative. It's fascinating to note in the animation how Cinderella's persona gradually changes around the film's midway point. She is on the verge of breaking, and her rebellious tendencies are beginning to emerge.

One of the most terrifying Disney villains is Lady Tremaine. You can see that she wants to control not only the life of Cinderella but also the lives of her own daughters if you watch any of the Cinderella sequels.


Cinderella's Importance

Cinderella is still one of the most popular fairy tales today. The world of the fairy tale is highly visual, as it includes the glass slipper, a lovely prince, talking animals, talking pumpkins, and a fairy godmother. Cinderella has captivating magic. The story teaches that love is more significant than your financial situation or social standing—love doesn't give a damn if you come from a dysfunctional home.

The expression "Cinderella story" refers to a person's miraculous rise from poverty to wealth.

Because it is a fairy tale that inspires us to aspire and believe in ourselves, to follow our hearts, and perhaps someday see our dreams come true, Cinderella speaks to everybody.


Apo, Satu. Magical Stories.

Dulac, Edmund. (2004). Fairy Tale Illustrations. Dover.

Franz, Marie Louise von. (1997). Archetypal Patterns in Fairy Tales. Inner City Books.

Grimm, Jacob, and Wilhelm Grimm. (2011). Grimms Complete Fairy Tales. Canterbury Classics.

© 2022 Niina Pekantytar