Fairytale Fun Facts: Cinderella
Updated: May 25, 2019
Since much of my inspiration comes from mythology, legends and fairytales, I’ve decided to dedicate some of my blogs to stories and creatures from these tales. And Cinderella feels like the perfect classic to start with. Plus, I happen to be an award-winning Cinderella. (Don’t believe me? Scroll down…)
Most people are familiar with this story, if for no other reason that having watched the Disney animated classic or the newer live-action version*. (As a kid I would sing and dance around the house with a broom. Didn’t we all?) Basically, a young woman’s father remarries a terrible woman with her equally terrible two daughters who treat Cinderella terribly. She is forced to do all the housework (though at least in the animated Disney version she had a team of singing animals to assist). And when her stepmother refuses to let her go to the royal ball, Cinderella weeps uncontrollably till her fairy godmother appears, granting her a total makeover and sweet ride, but with the caveat that it would all change back at midnight (well, except for the glass slippers, but that’s not really mentioned). Cinderella meets the Prince, they dance and fall in love, and after she flees at midnight, he goes on a quest to find her via the glass slipper. They reunite and all is well. But there is a lot more to this classic tale than squeaky-clean Disney version. Here are just a few fun facts about Cinderella.
This story is old.
Dating as far back as 7 B.C.E., there was a Greek version of Cinderella about a courtesan named Rhodopis. In this version, an eagle steals one of her sandals while she is bathing and flies the footwear to the king of Memphis, who is so overcome with the beauty of the shape of the sandal that he sends his men out to find the owner of the sandal. Once found, he makes Rhodopis his queen.
This story is universal.
Versions of the Cinderella story have not only come from ancient Greece, but from all over the world. Similar stories can be found in China, Japan, Vietnam, and medieval Europe. The first written version in Europe came from Italy, but in 1697 one of the most popular versions of Cinderella was written by Charles Perrault in France. Perrault’s Cendrillon saw the addition of the pumpkin, the fairy godmother, and the glass slipper.
The ending can be really unpleasant.
In some versions of Cinderella, everyone lives happily ever after. But that’s not always the case. In the German Brothers Grimm version, in which Cinderella is named Aschenputtel, doves peck out the eyes of the stepsisters, leaving them blind as their punishment for how they treated Aschenputtel. But if you read Grimm fairytales, you won’t be that surprised by such a dark ending. The musical, Into The Woods, a Stephen Sondheim mashup of fairytales keeps this darker aspect of Cinderella.
Has this changed how you see Cinderella? There have been so many versions and retellings, but I think each brings something new and interesting to the tale. Do you have a favorite version? Mention it in the comments below. Here’s a list of my top 5.
1. Grimm's Complete Fairy Tales – I have a dark side. And it loves the darker (dare I say the grim) versions of fairytales.
2. Into The Woods – It’s a musical warning to be careful what you wish for. (Once I even played Milky White in a community theatre production. I made an awesome cow.) And while I enjoyed the 2014 feature film, there is also something classic about seeing the original Broadway version.
3. Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles Book 1) – I’m a sucker for retellings and Marissa Meyer delivers with this sci-fi version that envisions Cinderella as a cyborg. And if you’re like me, you’ll soon need to read the entire Lunar Chronicles series.
4. Ever After – It makes me so happy to see Cinderella take charge in this film starring Drew Barrymore. Plus, Leonardo da Vinci plays the role of fairy godmother!
5. Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella – A fun musical, and I especially like the 1997 version for its talented and diverse cast, which includes Brandy, Whitney Houston, Jason Alexander, Whoopi Goldberg & Bernadette Peters.
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