Gloria A. Loftin
21 March 2013
“Cinderella” “Ashputtle” and “ A Chinese Cinderella”: Three Tales of Cruelty, Mutilation, and Retribution
In the “Cinderella” tales, whether they are French, African, Chinese or German, we all know the hopeful young girl, the magical entity, the glass slipper, the dress, the prince, and the happily ever-after. What we don’t focus on is the rampant cruelty, mutilation, and retribution. These three tales are fraught with such actions. In Perrault’s “Cinderella,” the stepmother cannot bear the good qualities of this pretty girl because they made her own daughters appear the more odious. She gives her the meanest work of the house. Cinderella sleeps at the top of the house on a wretched straw bed, while her sisters slept in fine rooms, on beds of the very newest fashion. Her stepsisters receive an invitation to the prince’s royal ball. They know that Cinderella would love to go to the ball, so they mockingly invite her: “Cinderella, how would you like to go to the ball?”
“Oh, dear, Cinderella says, you are making fun of me. It wouldn’t do for me.” “You are quite right. It would be a joke.
People would laugh if they saw a Cinderbottom at the ball” (625). Even the cruelty that Cinderella receives at the hand of her stepmother and stepsisters does not deter her from her goodness. At the end of the story she goes to the ball; wins the hand of the prince, finds husbands for her stepsisters and lives “happily ever after.” In a German telling of “Cinderella,” “Ashputtle” by the Brothers Grimm, not long after her mother dies her father remarries; and his new wife has two daughters. The stepsisters call her Ashputtle because she sleeps in the ashes. One day when her father goes into town she asks him, “father, break off the first branch that brushes against your hat on your way home, and bring it to me (629). When her father returns, she plants the branch on her mother’s grave that she visits three times...
Cited: Che’ﮫeng, Tuan. “A Chinese Cinderella.” Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum. Ed. Lawrence Behrens and Leonard J. Rosen. 11th ed. Boston: Longman, 2011. 633-635. Print.
Grimm, Jokob and Wilhelm Grimm. “Ashputtle.” Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum. Ed. Lawrence Behrens and Leonard J. Rosen. 11th ed. Boston: Longman, 2011. 628-633. Print.
Perrault, Charles, “Cinderella.” Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum. Ed. Lawrence Behrens and Leonard J. Rosen. 11th ed. Boston: Longman, 2011. 624-628. Print.
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