By: Charla Vandeberg
February 26, 2005
Ms. Robin Finora
The classic story of Cinderella that we all know is just one of more
than a thousand versions of the story that have been written in different
countries and by different cultures all over the world.
No matter how many different ways it is written, no little girl can resist
the story of Cinderella and finding true love with her prince.Every
culture has a Cinderella story. From India, Russia, Vietnam, Norway,
France, Slavic and even a Native American version.Each and every story
relates to the culture in which it was written.
The earliest version of the Cinderella tale comes from China. Tuan
Ch’eng-shih wrote it down in the middle of the ninth century A.D. (850-60
Common Era). The tone of the story that Tuan Ch’eng-shih wrote implies that
its readers and listeners were already well acquainted with the story by
the time it was written down. The heroine of the Chinese tale is Yeh-shen.
In the early version there is no fairy godmother, instead there is a
magical fish that is Yeh-shen’s helper. However, a golden shoe is used to
identify Yeh-shen to the prince who wants to marry her.
Cinderella finds her prince with glass slippers or boots and gets to
the ball via nuts, fish, and even cows. There is one notable exception to
the many Cinderella stories. The Native American version “The Rough Face
Girl” there is no ball, glass slipper, and fairy godmother, and no prince.
Instead there is the invisible one and Cinderella is not pretty but a
disfigured girl with many burn scars covering her body. This tale still
follows the Cinderella format of goodness and kindness, and of the
invisible one seeing past the scars to her true inner beauty. In this tale
it is the truth that will set you free, for only in telling the truth about
the invisible one can the girl get the “Prince”.
The cinder maid is a story that has been handed down for many, many
generations. It is a story of good verses evil and displaying courage
under the most grim of circumstances. The little cinder girl has lost her
mother and her father has remarried the vilest of women who brings the
cruelest of stepsisters. The young daughter is beautiful as well as kind,
and because of this kindness and beauty she is made a servant in her own
home. The only comfort she has is to sit under a hazel nut tree that she
planted on her mother’s grave. It has come to pass that the king is giving
a grand ball in honor of his only son and that the prince will pick a bride
from all the noble families in the country. The young daughter is made to
get her sisters ready for the ball, all the while being teased that she is
to dirty to go. After her family leaves for the ball she goes outside to
the Hazel nut tree and where she cries to the tree to make her a lady fair.
A little bird answers her to take the first nut that falls from the tree;
and inside that nut is a beautiful dress and shoes. After she is dressed
the tree opens and out comes a carriage made of copper. The little cinder
girl is now a fine lady who arrives at the ball and the prince has eyes for
none but her. She remembers what the bird says and leaves before midnight.
So enchanted with her, the prince has 2 more balls in hopes of finding out
who she is. At the last ball the prince puts tar down to stop the young
girl from leaving but to no avail, all that is left is a gold shoe. The
prince makes it known that he will marry none but the girl who can wear the
golden shoe. The time had come for the little cinder maid’s sisters to try
on the shoe. They were so eager to do so that they cut off their toe and
heels to get their foot in the shoe. The prince having seen that the
sisters could get their feet into the shoe carried them off to the palace.
On the way there the little bird said look behind you will see blood on the
shoe she is not the bride for you. The prince went back and asked if there
were any more daughters in the house and the little cinder girl was asked
to put on the shoe. She had no problem putting it on and then produced the
other gold shoe. The prince saw it was the same maiden that he had fallen
in love with so they went to the palace to be married, and as the story
says they lived happily ever after. This version of Cinderella is from
Germany written by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm also known as the Brothers
The language of the text gives the reader fluency, and ease of form.
The story is so well written in that it tells the story without belittling
the intelligence of the reader. It also allows the reader the chance to
reflect on similar stories that they have already read. There lies the
problem it is not like any Cinderella story I have ever read. It flows
well and is beautifully written but it has a sadistic feel about it, and
after reading this one story I went and researched other such stories and
they all are close to this one. I then came to the conclusion that Disney
cleaned up the story very well. All in all the language of this story does
keep the integrity of earlier retelling of this story, and keeps the true
to the original form.
In the book that I read it had much folklore in it but there were no
pictures. In my research of the story I noticed that the illustrations
were consistent with the time frame of which each version of the story was
written. In the story that I read I felt it was better that there were no
pictures in it, for it would have distracted me from the quality of the
story.I had a better time using my imagination to form the story and the
dresses in my mind.
My personal reaction to this story at first was how gross and how
sadistic the writer was, but once I got past that I realized that there are
other versions other than Disney’s. I really enjoyed researching the
different stories and realizing that they are not all nice and pretty of
those of my childhood. The international flavor of one of my favorite
stories made me smile and enjoy the differences of the cultures I was
Every person can find a little bit of the Cinderella story in their
own lives, regardless of their background, their situation or their
country. We can learn tolerance of others and some empathy along with the
morals that the many Cinderella stories have to offer. When we hear that
countries and cultures all over the world share an understanding and
empathy for a lonely, unloved person, it is then we will realize that even
though there are differences among all peoples, there are more similarities
among them as well.
Martin, R. (1992). The rough-face girl. New York, NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons.
Jacobs, J. (1916) European folk and fairy tales. New York, NY G.P. Putnam’s
(n.d.). Retrieved Feb. 24, 2005, from
(n.d.). Retrieved Feb. 25, 2005, from
Lang, A. (1965). “Cinderella.” the blue fairy book. New York, NY