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Comparative Analysis of “Cinderella” and “Ashputtle”

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The purpose of this paper is to make a comparative analysis of two perspectives on the children’s story of Cinderella. It contrasts the time periods and cultures of France and Germany, whereas one was told to royalty and another to peasants. The constants of each version, such as the shoes and the prince will be compared as well.

In Charles Perrault’s “Cinderella”, there is magic and music. This French version appears to have been written for royalty. The King’s Ball, the fairy godmother, all of the actors and actions come together to create a peaceful and harmonious conclusion. Cinderella’s forgiveness following her family’s cruelty allows for a “happily ever after” ending for Cinderella, as well as her sisters; this is a story befitting royalty. The glass slippers are only something attainable with great wealth; therefore, the audience can better comprehend the majesty of it all.

In contrast, there is Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm and their tale of “Ashputtle”. The German version, with its pagan magic, spell casting, and self mutilation is much more violent and aggressive. This style was obviously written for lower class citizens, peasants. Peasants would have a wedding celebration as opposed to a ball, and gold slippers were considered precious and invaluable to the audience, the idea of glass slippers would have been incomprehensible to them. The punishment of the stepsisters would leave a modern audience wondering, what happened to “happily ever after?” How can Cinderella possibly enjoy her happiness while carrying partial guilt for her step-sisters blindness? However, in the German culture of that era, the punishment was viewed as just and Cinderella would have her happiness without guilt.

In comparison, the theme of each version seems consistent. Each story presents their perspective audience with a girl who is put upon by her family from a young age. Forced to perform hard labor and to sit or sleep among the ashes, this child is shown to be innocent and sweet. Both involve a dance that is pertinent to the intended audience, and each has a Prince pursuing the young innocent girl. Magic plays a much greater role in the German version; from tears making the hazel tree grow to the white birds serving punishment on the step-sisters, from beginning to end the anticipated audience is captivated by magic. Whereas, in the French version, magic comes in the form of a fairy godmother who grants a wish. This is more appropriate and understandable for an audience of royalty who wants for little and chooses to turn a blind eye to the plight of others.

Changes in the telling of Cinderella were made to accommodate different audiences and cultures. While France is known as a peaceful and harmonious culture and country, Germany is known to be of a more violent and aggressive culture. The storytelling styles were very indicative of the intended audiences, royalty in France as opposed to the peasants in Germany. In discussing the key points of the stories of Cinderella and Ashputtle, the author of this paper concludes that the different approaches are characteristic of the cultures of France and Germany during that era.

Works Cited

Perrault, Charles. “Cinderella.” Writing and Reading across the Curriculum. 7th ed. Ed. Laurence Behrens and Leonard J. Rosen. New York: Longman, 2000. 598-602.

Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. “Ashputtle.” Writing and Reading across the Curriculum. 7th ed. Ed. Laurence Behrens and Leonard J. Rosen. New York: Longman, 2000. 602-619.

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