Friday, February 4, 2011
One of the earliest versions to incorporate the wicked stepmother, stepsisters, slipper and hunt by the king for the owner of the slipper was written in 1634 by Giambattista Basile, an Italian. But it was Charles Perrault who introduced the elements of the fairy godmother, the pumpkin and the glass slipper in 1697.
I found the Perrault version of this tale on a new-to-me site called SurLaLune Fairy Tales. This is the version that Disney adapted, although they did include the birds that help Cinderella in the German version. Of course they did; they're Disney and there always have to be helpful animals. Except that, not surprisingly, the animals in the Brothers Grimm tale do not talk and sing. In Perrault's hands, the stepsisters are ugly and Cinderella's father was a doormat for her stepmother and allowed his daughter to be treated like a servant. No wonder she was so eager to rush off and marry a man she hardly knew who seemed to only love her for her looks.
In the Grimm Brothers version of the tale, beauty inside doesn't equate to beauty inside; the stepsisters are also beautiful on the outside. But once again, Cinderella's father seems to have forgotten that the third girl in the house is his own flesh and blood. I was happy to see the my Grimm's Complete Fairy Tales included a version of this story that had not been sanitized. When the slipper doesn't fit the first stepsister, the stepmother hands her a knife, telling her to cut off her toe, which she does, making the slipper fit. Off she rides to be wed to the prince but singing birds betray her secret. The second stepsister then tries on the slipper and is convinced by her own mother to cut off part of her heel to make the slipper fit. She, too, is betrayed by a bird. At the wedding procession of the Prince and Cinderella, the stepsisters, wishing to curry favor, walk alongside the carriage but pigeons deliver their just reward by plucking out their eyes.