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Unregistered User
(10/2/05 3:32 am)
Dear All,

For my Dissertation I have been most fortunate to write about what I most love - fairytales and Cinderella in particular.
I was just wondering if anyone had any further ideas about this topic that may help. Basically I am looking at the cultural variations in the Cinderella Story. I have looked at many versions from all over the world including the oldest known version originating in China, through to Basile's Italian version to Perrault, Grimm and then Disney before finally looking at Cinderella and the treatment of fairy tale in film today (films like Pretty woman, Shrek and everafter).

Any comments and views on this subject would be helpful I am sure.
Gemila xx

Registered User
(10/2/05 5:25 am)
Goodness and beauty
Was going to reply to the point you made on the prejudice thread, but probably better here...

Obvious problems with the conventional way the relation of goodness and beauty have been represented in this story... Nevertheless, I do think there is a kind of equation that can be made between the two that transcends convention... In the sense that goodness/wisdom are beautiful even if the enclosing face looks like a large Rice Krispie.

Just wondered what you thought about that in relation to the symbolic way fairy tales often seem to work. For instance, all sorts of conflict being acted out in the arena of love/sex/marriage... That arena changes shape over time, changing the character of the stories... But it also makes certain presuppositions - such as beauty being equivalent sexual beauty, which it isn't... And for that matter traditional gender roles making the equivalence between goodness and housework or compliance...

While these equivalences (as endorsed by, for instance, Disney) have become inappropriate, the story might have something to say about goodness and beauty that's worth keeping.

I don't know, just wondered...

Unregistered User
(10/2/05 12:21 pm)
It's interesting that you mention Pretty Woman, since other than the girl-of-low-status-achieves-high-status-through-love trope, it doesn't have anything to do with the Grimms or Perrault versions. That's become the definition of a "Cinderella Story," but every audience decides for itself what the most salient theme of a story is. I think we've had a thread talking about why Cinderella has such endurance for American audiences: we read it as a story of social mobility, and what's more American than that?

Unregistered User
(10/2/05 8:47 pm)
Re: Cinderella
It's interesting that you mention Pretty Woman

...Seeing as it was pretty unabashedly "Pygmalion"/"My Fair Lady" from the start--
And, more specifically, if it had been made, say, Fox or Universal, or some other studio not as legendarily obsessed with stamping their own corporate brand-identification name on the script as Disney was, the characters would probably be making Audrey Hepburn jokes every other line, instead...

(I MEAN, sixteen years, and even colleges are still fooled enough to put it on the curriculum...)

evil little pixie
Registered User
(10/2/05 9:42 pm)
Re: Cinderella
You've probably explored this page already, but here's a link:

Rosemary Lake
Registered User
(10/3/05 12:29 am)
As for beauty.... As Luthi says, fairy tales tend to make everything very definite, very physical.

Suppose a production where all three sisters had similar physical features, all mildly pretty. The wicked sisters have habitual scowling, snarling, disagreeable expressions, and elaborate makeup etc in bad taste. Cinderella has a very sweet smile, intelligent expression, and simple grooming.

In the traditional fairy tale style, that smiling girl would be described as pretty or beautiful. Such expressions do make the face look prettier.

Our modern emphasis on 'beauty' as physical might have something to do with selling cosmetics. :) But tales like Cinderella, Mother Holle, etc make a big point of the poorly dressed girl (presumably without makeup) being 'prettier' than the spoiled, well-dressed one (presumably with makeup).

Registered User
(10/19/05 12:22 am)
Re: beauty
I recently taught a year 10 unit on Cinderella transformations for my high school teaching practicum. Part of the unit was looking at feminist interpretations, stereotyping and binary oppositions in traditional and non-traditional versions of the Cinderella story. We looked at a Vietnamese story called Tam and Cam (where the Cinderella character tricks the stepmother into eating her daughter), Babette Cole's children's picture book Prince Cinders (where the Cinderella character fits the stereoptype but is a boy), the film Ever After with Drew Barrymore (where science replaces magic etc etc) and the Australian film Muriel's Wedding (about a girl who has fallen for the whole "get married and live happily ever after" ideal). Had also intended to show the French film Amelie as I am convinced that that has transformed Cinderella elements in it (eg, Amelie as both Cinderella and Fairy Godmother in one) but thought it would be too much for a class of challenging 16yos to sit through. It would have been a really interesting one to analyse apart from that though.

All the best with your research


Registered User
(10/19/05 1:58 am)
have you watched "slipper and the rose" thats a lovely version of cinderella. One of my favourite films. Look it up if u've not seen it.

Candy.xx :D

sally e
Registered User
(10/19/05 1:38 pm)
Another film that my sisters and I have associated with the Cinderella theme is John Hughes' "Sixteen Candles." He did it again later, more obviously, in "Pretty in Pink," but "Candles" stands out as a better story, I think. Molly Ringwald as awkward teenager, her family not wicked but so involved in her sister's wedding that they forget her birthday. There's no equivalent to the fairy godmother's physical transformation of the girl, but it really hits the themes I believe. And the shoe makes an appearance as a pair of panties. Brilliant!

Hmm, I just talked myself into rewatching this one.

Registered User
(10/22/05 7:39 am)
Wow, thank you everyone, this has been most useful! Some really great film suggestions too, I ahdn't thought of Amelie but now you mention it I do see what you mean. I alos love the slipper and the rose :)
Please keep your suggestions/ observations coming in!

Thank you!

Registered User
(10/22/05 4:26 pm)
Have you found THE CINDRELLA CASEBOOK? Some very interesting essays in it. (I say unblushingly, even though my own "America's Cinderella" is in it!) The editor on the book wqas the late, great Alan Dundes.


Registered User
(10/23/05 10:21 am)
Hi Jane...I have tried and tried to find this book! But I just can't! :(

Heidi Anne Heiner
(10/23/05 10:28 am)
Dundes, Alan, ed. Cinderella: A Casebook. Madison: University of Wisconsin, 1982.
Buy the book in paperback.


Unregistered User
(10/24/05 6:49 pm)
cap o rushes
Cap O' Rushes is another Cinderella story...

Unregistered User
(10/24/05 7:05 pm)
Gregory Maguire
Gregory Maguire's book "Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister" is an intriguing retelling of the Cinderella story from the POV of one of the ugly stepsisters (obviously). The Ugly stepsisters are portrayed as fairly equal to Cinderella in different ways, with the exception of looks obviously. It doesn't try to totally obliterate the original view of Cinderella herself, it only places the story in a place and time much like Everafter did, and creates the story around that place and time.
This story does a flip flop on the strongly independant social climber as it places the stepmother in that role and shows how she basically does herself in through her voracious appetite for social power. This is extremely interesting when compared to the more modern ideas of Cinderella (pretty woman, Everafter, etc.)as the self-made woman, when you are given the idea that this is what the stepmother could have been.

But Gregory Maguire's writing is political criticism, you can pull many criticisms of the ideals of Cinderella from this, and probably from analysis of this work.

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