In class on Tuesday, January 24th, we started off class with a presentation on Cinderella. The two presenters started off by telling the class a little history on the fairy tale of Cinderella, which is also known as The Little Glass Slipper. The majority of their presentation was the comparison of the Cinderella movie with the version “Donkeyskin” in The Classic Fairy Tales. Some of the similarities included: the mother dies, there is a godmother, she didn’t know the prince was looking for her, she finds true love, and they live happily ever after. Some of the differences included: there was no stepmother or stepsisters in the short story, the short story contained a ring instead of a glass slipper, and she runs away in the short story. It was very interesting for me to learn about “Donkeyskin” since I am so used to growing up around the Disney movie, Cinderella.
We then moved on to a short discussion on how children understand stories. Professor Soudabeh shared with us the book Ten Timid Ghosts and how her daughter didn’t like how the witch was driving a car instead of flying on a broom. Another example she shared with us was a version of Rapunzel that consisted of very elegant pictures. Her daughter thought the book belonged to her mom because the pictures weren’t acceptable. The way children’s minds immediately think the book is unacceptable because it’s not what is typical of a children’s book really amazes me. At such a young age, they can point out what is different or doesn’t belong.
Then, we moved on to another short discussion regarding parody. Professor Soudabeh shared with us two other books: Goodnight Moon and Goodnight Bush. They had the same exact book cover and a lot of similarities throughout the book when it came to the pictures. We discussed how the power of the parody comes from the original one, which in this case was the original book, Goodnight Moon. As a class, we came up with the definition that parody is when you adapt something that was already created to be funny and/or culturally relevant. This was a good introduction to better understanding what the different authors did in the many versions of Cinderella.
Towards the end of class, we started the discussion of “Cinderella” and its many different versions from The Classic Fairy Tales. We only got the chance to fully discuss “Yeh-hsien” and got half way through “Donkeyskin.”
The first version of Cinderella we discussed was the Chinese version called “Yeh-hsien” and we really focused on the important role the fish played in the story. We agreed that there was some personification with the fish regarding Cinderella’s strong connection to nature and the fish represents that connection. Yeh-hsien forms a special relationship with the fish, when suddenly the evil stepmother kills the fish out of jealousy. Although the fish dies, it still remains an important aspect of the story when Yeh-hsein receives a visit from a man who claims the bones of the fish are magic. The interesting part of this version of Cinderella is the great significance the fish has to the story compared to the version of Cinderella where she has a fairy godmother providing all the magic. The fairy godmother always held an important role, but I feel like she never held a role as significant as the fish held. I say this because even after Yeh-hsien finds her true love, he not only wanted her, but he wanted her fish bones, too.
We then started the discussion of another version of Cinderella, which was very different from the first one we discussed. To start, “Donkeyskin” is written as a narrative that is more so telling the audience instead of the story being presented to them. The purpose of this was to be able to direct the understanding for the readers. “Donkeyskin” didn’t have any magical fish, but instead it had the typical godmother character, who held a very significant role as well. She was the girl’s teacher and protector. The biggest difference of this version, in my opinion, strayed further away from the usual storyline of Cinderella with the King wanting to have an inappropriate relationship with his daughter. This was one of my least favorite versions because I couldn’t imagine ever hearing this as a little girl or even reading it to my own children one day. Even though at the end of the story the King was happy for his daughter, who found her happily ever after, the whole dynamic of the father falling in love with his daughter was unacceptable to me.
Although we were able to only discuss two versions of Cinderella, I enjoyed reading the different storylines that came with each version. The discussion of the two expanded my knowledge and understanding of each plot, as I learned the most significant aspects of each. I look forward to continuing our discussion on the other versions.