The Other Side of Cinderella

Cinderella, when we hear this what is the first thing that comes to your mind?

Glass slippers, talking mice, singing doves, a godmother waiting to make a magical appearance, a handsome prince, an unfortunate girl becoming a princess and living happy ever after ; is the typical scenario anyone can imagine when we identify this classical character.

But is this all we know about Cinderella, what about the different versions that are apparent throughout history and cultures around the world. Class today started  out with an interesting question about Cinderella and those who like her vs those who don’t. This was quite interesting to analyze, in my opinion I do not favor the classical Cinderella that most people categorize her to be, the reason being it feels lacking and mundane in many ways. This includes the plot and the event of the storyline which to a child may be very complicated yet to an adult is very straight forward and typical for a fairytale.

In the assigned reading, different versions of Cinderella were analyzed and brought forth, each of which showed many different themes and plots. In a way, a new side of Cinderella was unraveled; each of which varied from father to daughter marriages, gruesome acts of self infliction on oneself along with other characters, gender changes in the role of the heroine, as well as very different plot lines all of which follow a typical “Cinderella” theme.

The first Cinderella version “Yeh-Hsien” is very unique in which other elements are pulled together to represent her connection to nature, more specifically the fish that she catches and releases. Not only did this act show her kind nature, she further nurtured and took care of the fish which went above and beyond an act of a pure heart even after being murdered by the cruel acts of her step-mother. In the end her good deeds and love to the fish is rewarded with a happy ending. This version essentially shows how ones good deeds and favor for another being, in my opinion can lead to good fortunes in the future; which essentially did happen. As for the evil deed of the step-mother and stepsister, they died by flying stones that struck them.

“The Donkey Skin”is probably one of the most intriguing version of Cinderella, compared to all the versions that were read. The story itself starts of with what one can describe as “Happy Ever After” but with a continuation. In this case the story dives into an exciting yet sinful plot of a fathers love for his daughter beyond what it should be after his wife dies and gives him a ultimatum if he is to marry again. This leads to the father daughter love between the heroine to morph into a form of frenzy that bypasses reason and logic in the fathers case. Leading to his daughter to run away and fending for herself. By disguising how she really is, this story teaches many morals throughout the beginning to the end from the idea of love which morphs into many different forms, which essentially evolves into the classical love between the heroine and her prince charming after running away from her father, as well as a fathers realization and love between a parents and child.Along with the idea to “Never judge a book by its cover” as demonstrated when the princess hid her true beauty and self-pervered through her hard trials.

“Cinderella” by Brothers Grimm, is probably one of the more classic Cinderella that we all know growing up as a kid but with a lot of details especially the gruesome acts that the stepsister attempt to do, in order to fit their feet into the slipper.  Along with the doves who peak both sisters eyes resulting in blindness. Overall this version of Cinderella itself seemed to be a more adult version then a child version of the Cinderella that we all know off.

Joseph Jacobs “Catskin” starts of with an unusual introduction to a child, who is actually abandoned by her father and left to fend for herself. Along with the idea that she has to be married to the first person that comes her way. But this “Cinderella “is no pushover, instead she is very cunning and smart. Requesting items of valuable assets to use at her advantage, at which she later runs away with hiding her true nature and deceiving those around her. In this version, we can see how truly smart the heroine is using hints to show the prince where she lives, after going to each ball he hosted and dressing up in the dresses she requested off. Though the prince never did figure out the clues he did eventually find out who she was and through self perseverance and eventually they both lived a happy ending.

“The Story of the Black Cow” in my opinion is one of the very few versions of Cinderella I have ever read that is unique in its own nature, the main reason being the heroine is a boy and not just any boy he is a innocent child. This innocent as well as his gentle nature is prevalent throughout the story. This includes sharing candy with his step sister even though the step-mother is cruel to him to the point of feeding him ash as food and him not mentioning it to his father from either fear or his kind nature. Overall, the heroine himself lives a happy ending due his friends help, the cow who helps him run away, and even after obtaining his happiness goes back to see the cow again, never forgetting the kindness and compassion that he shared with the cow, even after the cow tricked him to see if he genuinely cared about her.

“Lin Lan”is by far one of my favorite versions of Cinderella out of all the ones we have read, the reason being is that the theme itself involves a lot of culture diversity. Coming from a background of asian beliefs and culture it was interesting to note the spiritual aspect of the soul being reincarnated in a way to different objects and beings each of which have a much more deeper meaning to what the text says. The bird for instance could symbolize longevity and good luck, the bamboo can symbolize strength and resilience, and so on. Overall the theme of this version can be based of Karma in my opinion, with “what goes around comes around”, especially with poker face (her sister) battling it out with beauty in various competitions all of which Beauty prevailed in.

All in all, it is very interesting to note that some of these variants in Cinderella originated from Asia, also noting that the oldest record of Cinderella did come form China,  this in my opinion can be contributed to a long belief that many asians including myself and my family have believed in for many years. This steams from the deep roots of our history and culture where it is believed that those who are unfortunate but stay true to themselves and conduct themselves with poise, vigilant, honest, purity, and hard work will be awarded in the end. This theme in my opinion can be attributed to many of the versions of Cinderella we have read and discussed about so far.



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