Comparative Study of Cinderella

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The legendary story of Cinderella has dated back to the first century BC. Over this time every nation has adopted and altered the tale based on social and cultural context. These appropriations have invited reflections on society’s values, gender roles, class structure and relationships. A comparative study of Perault’s Cinderella, Chinese Cinderella and Pretty Women strongly illustrates the transformation of customs over the past three hundred years. This is easily demonstrated in the modifications of society’s values in both Chinese Cinderella and Pretty Women. The autobiography of Chinese Cinderella consistently reflects on society’s values during Adeline Yen Mah childhood in the 1940’s. Obedience was a major component within the family household as Niang (Adeline’s Step Mother) repeatedly slaps Adeline until her nose bleeds for “disobeying” the rule of no friends are to visit the house. The negative connotation of hitting a child causes the audience to contemplate the environment of which Adeline is living in. The novel frequently acknowledges the importance of acceptance as Adeline constantly strives for her father’s praise and recognition. The father’s ignorance towards his daughter evokes empathy as he not only forgets Adeline’s birthday but her name as well; indicating that she is a forgotten child. The value of determination is expressed through Adeline’s persistence at school as it is her academic ability that grants her the recognition of her father. This message has invited reflection on how hard work can achieve a person’s desired outcome. This concept is considered inferior in the 1990 appropriated version of Cinderella known as Pretty Women. Pretty Women is a clear representation of a modern society based on materialistic values. The movie begins with Vivian’s landlord threatening to evict her if she does not produce her rent showing that he values money over Vivian having a place to sleep the night. The contemporary context of drugs, prostitution and greed causes the viewer to question the priorities of modern society. When Vivian arrives in Rodeo Drive to buy appropriate clothes she is refused service by a snooty saleswomen as she is still dressed like a hooker. This is contrasted to the next day when she returns to the store wearing an expensive outfit and the sales staff are polite to Vivian, (plot) showing that it requires money to be accepted in society. Love builds between the protagonists but it is once again overshadowed by the concept of money. Vivian only agrees to stay with Edward after being offered $3000 and Edward is only prepared to be publicly seen with Vivian after she is dressed in wealthy clothes, therefore questioning if their love is true or based on superficial motives. The female protagonist relying on her male counterpart corresponds to the of Perault’s fairytale. Perault’s fairy tale Cinderella reflects on the historical context of a patriarchal society during 1697. The fairy tale quickly establishes that the women must complete domestic duties and raise the children even if they find the activities tiresome. This is shown when the step-mother enforces that Cinderella performs all the house maintenance. The historical context allows the reader to subjectively compare traditional and modern gender roles. Cinderella is considered the prefect women as she is beautiful, sincere and devoid of all spiteful emotions, she even helps her step-sister prepare for the ball when she is prohibited to attend. The fairy tales purpose is to show the honourable behaviour of Cinderella in an attempt to inspire females to adopt her commendable characteristics, resulting in a contemporary audience assessing the qualities of a “perfect women”. Cinderella’s social status is only heightened after marrying the prince demonstrating that a woman requires a husband to be rescued from their surroundings. Although this is a politically incorrect statement within the twenty first century, the...
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