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You might know her better by her English name: Cinderella, a beautiful, blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl tormented by her vain and calculating stepfamily. She gets the ultimate revenge by winning the love of the royal prince, whom her stepsisters were scheming to marry. Most of us know her story by heart: the midnight curfew, and the fairy godmother who doesn't step in until our heroine endures her scarring childhood and abandons her glass slipper, are part of the fable that has been retold and reimagined many times.
But even though the famed tale is pieced together from its European versions, the core of the narrative — the story of a young girl who escapes unfortunate circumstances through chastity and patience, with some help from her magical friends — is actually found in countries and cultures throughout the world. From China to Nigeria, each Cinderella story changes to reflect the local culture, customs and values. Some are old fables, and others are more modern adaptions of the well-known story.
But they are united in their shared telling of the ultimate triumph of good over evil. However, in this Thai tale, the young girl's mother doesn't just die. She comes back in the form of a golden fish, an eggplant and a pair of trees that the girl talks to and finds comfort in during tough times. While this version does not include a glass shoe or a handsome prince, it does focus on the morals of prosperity for the honest, and peril for the greedy.
Chinye is sent into the dark forest by her stepmother to fetch water for the household. The young girl, who is terrified by predators lurking among the trees, meets a woman who tells her to visit a nearby hut and collect only the most modest of gourds. When she does as she is told, the gourd smashes open and riches pour out. Set in a Polish village, Raisel's Riddle is a Jewish retelling that focuses on a smart, motivated heroine and a hero the rabbi's son who is drawn to wisdom and virtue.
Raised by her poor but wise grandfather, Raisel grows up a strong, independent girl. After his passing, she finds work in the kitchen of a rabbi. On Purim, she gains three wishes and, after using them wisely, catches the eye of the rabbi's son. Unlike the classic Cinderella character, Raisel agrees to marry him only if he can answer her clever, thought-provoking riddle. In this story, Maha, the daughter of a fisherman, bears the brunt of her stepmother's jealousies.
She befriends a little red fish who helps her as she grows older. Instead of a ball, there is a wedding preparation where all the women gather for a henna ceremony. After the magical fish gives Maha a silk gown and golden sandals, she loses one of them in the river on her way home.
Tariq, the brother of the bride, finds the sandal and asks his mother to try it on all the women around town to find his worthy bride. Instead of stepsisters, she is ill-treated by the Egyptian servant girls.
In this version, Rhodopis is given a pair of red dancing slippers from her master as she loves dancing, but she is unable to attend the pharoah's court. However, one of her slippers is taken from her by a falcon and dropped in the pharaoh's lap. The pharoah then vows to find the owner of the beautiful slippers and make her queen of Egypt. This version of the story, first recorded in the first century B. While Manyara is more concerned with position and power, Nyasha is humble and kind-hearted.
On their way to the city, Nyasha shares her food and gives gifts to the poor and hungry, while Manyara rushes by to meet the king. When they finally arrive, the king appears to the haughty sister in the form of a vicious monster, while Nyasha sees a small garden snake that transforms into the king.
He eventually marries Nyasha, while Manyara is forced to become a servant in her sister's household. Yeh-Shen is a young girl who befriends and shares a handful of rice with a magical fish in a nearby pond. Even after her evil stepmother kills and eats the fish, he comes back to help her get ready for the local festival.
The king finds the tiny, golden slipper that she lost and searches for its owner. When Yeh-Shen tries to steal back the slipper, he catches her and her identity is eventually revealed. You can probably guess how the story ends! The young girl becomes an orphan even though her father is still alive. According to the book, "As people say in Greece, 'A child becomes an ophan when she loses her mother.
Her stepmother is also said to be so hateful that "She counted every drop of water the orphan drank. After the prince notifies the village that he will be attending their church service, he catches a glimpse of the beautiful orphan. Struck by her beauty, he attends a second service and sets a trap of honey and wax around the entrance. While the orphan manages to escape, she leaves behind a shoe in the sticky mixture. Perhaps one of the most recognizable versions of Cinderella, Charles Perrault's "Cendrillon" is closest to the Disney production that we all know and love.
He first included the tale in a collection of stories published in While most of the tale unfolds in the way most familiar to American audiences, this version ends much differently : After marrying the handsome prince, Cendrillon's stepsisters beg her forgiveness. The newly married princess forgives them and allows them to live a new life in the palace. This article was originally published on June 3, By Hyacinth Mascarenhas.
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One of the most well-known stories ever written, Cinderella and its universal tale of the human heart has appealed to young and old for centuries. While these versions vary in some degree, the general tale usually centers around a kind, but oppressed character persecuted by the step-family.
Typically, the father is either neglectful or absent; consequently, Cinderella must rely on a magical guardian for assistance in achieving her deepest wish. Scholars disagree as to exactly how many versions of the popular tale exist, with numbers ranging from to over 3, versions, including picture books and musical interpretations. Although the story doesn't have a singular author, there are several notable interpreters.
The earliest known version of Cinderella originated in China. Recorded on paper by Tuan Ch'eng-shih in the middle of the ninth century, this version centers around "Yeh-Shen," a beautiful young girl whose mother has died. Raised by a spiteful stepmother, Yeh-Shen's only friend is a fish in the river near her home. After her stepmother kills her fish, Yeh-Shen is told by an old man to gather the fish bones and make a wish.
She wishes to attend the spring festival, and she is granted a beautiful outfit complete with golden slippers. Yeh-Shen loses one of her slippers while running away from her stepmother at the festival; however, a villager discovers it and it eventually finds its way to the King. The King searches everywhere for the rightful owner of the slipper, and when Yeh-Shen puts the magic slipper on, her clothes are transformed into the beautiful attire from her night at the festival and the King proposes to her.
The youngest sister is forced by her two older sisters to tend the village fire for hours, causing her hair and face to burn from the cinder sparks. The powerful and magical chieftain is seeking a wife, but he is invisible. Dressing herself in a birch-bark dress and worn moccasins, she walks to meet the chieftain. Her beauty is restored after she bathes in a lake, and she is soon married to the chieftain.
A West-African interpretation of Cinderella, the story of "Chinye," does not focus on marrying a prince. Chinye is sent by her stepmother into the forest at night to get water. Animals protect Chinye from the dangers of the forest.
On her way home, Chinye meets an old woman who tells her to go into a hut where there are gourds on the floor, and she is to take the tiniest, quietest gourd home and break it. Chinye does as she is told and when she breaks the gourd, treasures spill out. In a jealous rage, her stepsister finds the house with the gourds and greedily selects the largest one. She eagerly runs home to split her gourd open, but instead of treasures, the broken gourd unleashes a terrible storm.
Chinye's stepfamily loses everything. Because they are too proud to ask for help, the stepfamily moves. Chinye is left behind and chooses to use her wealth to help her village. Mufaro loves both of his daughters, but Manyara is selfish and conceited while Nyasha is kind and sensitive.
Nyasha befriends a magical snake named Nyoka while working in her garden. Soon the King of Zimbabwe announces that he is seeking a wife.
Both Manyara and Nyasha make the difficult journey to his city. Along the way, the sisters encounter a hungry boy and an old woman. Nyasha happily shares her food and is kind to all she encounters while Manyara refuses to share and is disrespectful. When the sisters approach the King's room, Nyasha discovers that the king is her friend, the magical snake Nyoka. Nyoka asks for Nyasha's hand in marriage and her selfish sister is forced to be her servant.
The British put a slight twist on the traditional Cinderella story with "Tattercoats. Tattercoats lives with her grandfather who doesn't care for her. He vows never to lay eyes on her because his favorite daughter died while in labor with Tattercoats, so she is forced to beg for food and wear rags. Her only friend is a boy who tends to the livestock. When the Prince announces that he will have a ball to choose a bride, Tattercoats and her friend walk to the palace to watch the procession.
Along the way, a wealthy gentleman encounters them, falls in love with Tattercoats, and proposes to her.
She refuses, but does agree to go to the palace at midnight in order that he may see her again. When she arrives at the palace in her tattered clothing, everyone laughs at her. The wealthy gentleman reveals that he is the Prince and selects her as his bride. Her clothes are transformed into beautiful garments and her friend becomes a squire. The Grimm version, published in , does not include a fairy godmother. Instead, the heroine plants a tree on her mother's grave.
Magical help appears to Cinderella in the form of a white dove. While some versions of the Cinderella tale include a happier ending for the stepsisters, in the Grimm interpretation they become permanently blind after their eyes are pecked out by birds from Cinderella's tree.
In the original story, Cinderella's slipper had been made of fur; however, scholars think Perrault may have confused vair French for "fur" with the word verre French for "glass". Perrault recorded the story as it had been told by storytellers, but added the magical elements for literary effect. Knowing a fairy tale proved risky for an opera audience, Ferretti made several changes to Perrault's version, including the absence of the fairy godmother and the "wicked" stepmother.
Ferretti wrote a preface to the opera, explaining the changes he made to Perrault's tale: "This ought not to be considered as a crime of disrespect, but rather a necessity on the stage of the Teatro Valle, and an act of respect to the delicacy of Romans' taste, which does not tolerate on the stage what is diverting in a tale told by the fireside.
Regardless of the interpretation, the Cinderella stories examine the test of the human spirit. Jealousy and cruelty are repeatedly punished. Cinderella reminds us that compassion and sensitivity will be rewarded. Heiner, Heidi Anne. Lucas, Jennisen. China The earliest known version of Cinderella originated in China. Africa A West-African interpretation of Cinderella, the story of "Chinye," does not focus on marrying a prince.
England The British put a slight twist on the traditional Cinderella story with "Tattercoats. Resources: Boyden, Matthew. Opera: the Rough Guide.