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book review of cinderella

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A Summary and Analysis of the Cinderella Fairy Tale

By Dr Oliver Tearle (Loughborough University)

‘Cinderella’ is, of course, a classic fairy story, a ‘rags to riches’ tale about a kind-hearted girl who suffers various hardships only to marry the prince of the kingdom. Why is Cinderella called Cinderella? Since she is shunned by the rest of her family (especially the stepsisters), the poor girl sits among the ashes in the chimney corner – hence her cindery name.

The ‘rags to riches’ transformation comes about when Cinders, who wishes to attend the royal ball, has her wish granted and subsequently meets the prince. Although she has to flee the ball and return home – losing one of her slippers in the process – the prince searches for and finds her, thanks to what is perhaps the most romantic shoe-fitting in all of literature. So far, so familiar.

The earliest appearance of the Cinderella story in print was in 1634 in the  Pentamerone , a collection of oral folk tales compiled by Giambattista Basile, a Neapolitan soldier, poet, and courtier. Here Cinderella is called Cenerentola.

In 1697, French writer Charles Perrault published the story of Cendrillon, a variation on the story. Perrault added several details now intrinsically associated with the story – notably the pumpkin, the fairy godmother, and the glass slipper – to Basile’s version, which already featured the wicked stepmother and the evil stepsisters, as well as the prince figure (though in Basile’s he is a king rather than a prince) who hunts for the owner of a slipper (though it isn’t glass in Basile’s version). Perrault’s version would form the basis of the hit 1950 Disney film  Cinderella , which in turn inspired Kenneth Branagh’s 2015 live-action remake.

But in fact the story is even older than these seventeenth-century versions: ‘Ye Xian’ or ‘Yeh-Shen’ is a Chinese variant of the Cinderella story that dates from the ninth century. A detailed plot summary can be found here .

But even this isn’t the oldest version of the story: a tale dating back to the 1st century BC, more than a thousand years before even the Chinese ‘Ye Xian’, is perhaps the earliest of all Cinderella narratives. The story is about a Thracian courtesan, Rhodopis, who ends up marrying the King of Egypt . It even features a royal figure searching for the owner of a shoe, suggesting that it is the progenitor of all later Cinderella stories.

In the nineteenth century, the Brothers Grimm offered a slightly different version of the tale in Aschenputtel . The Grimms’ retelling of the fairy tale is somewhat … well, grimmer than the Basile or Perrault versions.

At the end of the Grimms’ version of the story, the stepsisters’ eyes are pecked out by birds to punish the sisters for their cruelty towards their sibling – a violent conclusion you won’t find in Disney. In order to try to dupe the prince into thinking they are the wearers of the missing slipper, each of the stepsisters cuts off part of her own foot to make it fit, but the blood that fills the slipper gives the game away. Indeed, the Chinese ‘Ye Xian’ telling of the Cinderella story ends with the stepmother and ugly sisters being crushed to death in their caves by stones. In the Disney film they get off lightly, to say the least.

What’s more, in the Brothers Grimm version of the Cinderella story, the slipper is not glass, but gold. There is disagreement among scholars and commentators as to whether the glass slippers that first appear in Perrault’s version (and, subsequently, in many famous retellings and adaptations of the tale) were the result of Perrault’s mishearing  vair  (French for ‘squirrel’s fur’) for  verre (French for ‘glass’).

The majority of experts reject such a theory. The website Snopes.com states that Perrault intended the slippers to be made of glass all along, and wasn’t acting on an error, while another site suggests that the glass slipper was perhaps ‘an ironic device since it is a fragile thing’, so might be seen as a form of artistic licence.

Interestingly, the ‘error’ theory – that Perrault was not inventing an iconic literary trope but simply mishearing one word for another – appears to have been put about by the French novelist Honoré de Balzac. So, although Perrault added the glass slippers, it was most likely not down to a mishearing (especially since the word  vair was not in common use when Perrault was writing) but to creative licence.

Roald Dahl updated the fairy tale of Cinderella in 1982 in his R evolting Rhymes. The most significant Dahlian detail in his verse retelling of the tale comes near the end, when one of the stepsisters replaces the glass slipper with her own shoe. But even though the shoe subsequently fits the sister’s foot perfectly (as you’d expect), the prince declines to marry her and instead – cuts her head off.

The tyrannical prince does the same to the other stepsister, and Cinderella’s head would have been done for too, had her fairy godmother not intervened and saved her – granting Cinderella’s wish to be married to an ordinary husband rather than a prince who would, let’s face it, make Prince Joffrey look like Oliver Twist.

So that’s a happy ending, just not the one you find in traditional fairy tales.

Before the Disney film of 1950, and long before the 2015 Kenneth Branagh remake, there were many film adaptations, the first of which (from 1899) can be seen here .

If you enjoyed this post, you might find something of literary interest in our summary of the curious history of ‘Rumpelstiltskin’ ,  25 great facts about children’s books and our surprising facts about Aladdin and the Arabian Nights .

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20 thoughts on “A Summary and Analysis of the Cinderella Fairy Tale”

Reblogged this on Língua Inglesa .

I always enjoy your posts. Just the sort of facts I find fascinating. Thank you. Kris http://www.awritersden.wordpress.com

We just covered the Brothers Grimm and their grusome tales in the Romantic Period of our senior English lit section. Students are mesmerized by the cruelty and violence of the original fairy tales. One of my favorite versions is Ever After with Drew Barrymore. In the beginning of the film the glass slipper is shown and it is golden glass–which solves both theories of the famous shoe.

I love the Ever After version of this tale as well. The Brothers Grimm tend to be too grim for me. :)

Nice post! I love researching this sort of thing. One of my favorite Cinderella adaptions (shadow puppets) is from 1922 by Lotte Reiniger. You can find it on YouTube.

Interesting to see how far back the story goes. But I thought there was a version (though I can’t remember where) where the stepsisters are forced to dance on hot coals until they died?

This ending seems familiar – though I can’t remember which version it was exactly. Maybe I should reread my old fairytale books. By the way, why are so many suprised about the cruelty in the original fairytales? I’ ve grown up with them and especially the Disney version appeared always too nice in my opinion.

You might be thinking of a version of Snow White where the stepmother is forced to dance in red hot iron shoes until she died.

Reblogged this on Getting Lit Fit .

Huh. Interesting as always.

Reblogged this on your worst nightmare and commented: So gosh-darn cool.

Reblogged this on justthetraveller and commented: Well, that’s New to me.

Reblogged this on Wyldwood Books and commented: Yet another interesting and informative post from interestingliterature.com

I knew of Pentamerone from my time at university along with the Grimm version (which I thoroughly enjoyed), but knew little of the earlier versions. Great reading.

Reblogged this on Beyond The Beyond.. .

Such an intersting post. Loved it.

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Reblogged this on Be Yourself Here!:) and commented: Never Knew this before!

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by The Brothers Grimm ; illustrated by Ulrike Haseloff ‧ RELEASE DATE: July 1, 2013

This Germanic Cinderella is simple, direct and rather sweet.

First published in German in 2011 as Aschenputtel , this is a gentle(ish) version of the oft-told tale, with illustrations evocative of the 18th century.

A dying mother tells her daughter that she will look down from heaven upon her, and every day the girl goes to her mother’s grave to weep. Her stepfather remarries, and his new wife’s two daughters scorn the girl and force her to be their servant. When the invitation for the prince’s ball arrives, the stepmother first sets Cinderella an impossible task that friendly birds help her to accomplish. Still denied the ball, Cinderella, weeping, recites a rhyme on her mother’s grave, and a white bird drops down a silver and gold ball gown and silk slippers, one of which she leaves behind in haste and which the prince picks up, triggering the classic search. The first stepsister cannot get her foot in it at all, and the second cuts off a piece of her heel to make it fit. Of course it is Cinderella whom the slipper fits, and “they were happy ever after.” This version neither marries the stepsisters to local nobles nor sends birds to peck out their eyes. The pictures, even to the ship-in-full-sail hairdo on one stepsister, are based on 18th-century patterns and styles, and Cinderella’s dress has a satisfying quantity of gold floral glitter.

Pub Date: July 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-86315-948-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Floris

Review Posted Online: May 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013


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by Amy Krouse Rosenthal ; illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 1, 2015

Although the love comes shining through, the text often confuses in straining for patterned simplicity.

A collection of parental wishes for a child.

It starts out simply enough: two children run pell-mell across an open field, one holding a high-flying kite with the line “I wish you more ups than downs.” But on subsequent pages, some of the analogous concepts are confusing or ambiguous. The line “I wish you more tippy-toes than deep” accompanies a picture of a boy happily swimming in a pool. His feet are visible, but it's not clear whether he's floating in the deep end or standing in the shallow. Then there's a picture of a boy on a beach, his pockets bulging with driftwood and colorful shells, looking frustrated that his pockets won't hold the rest of his beachcombing treasures, which lie tantalizingly before him on the sand. The line reads: “I wish you more treasures than pockets.” Most children will feel the better wish would be that he had just the right amount of pockets for his treasures. Some of the wordplay, such as “more can than knot” and “more pause than fast-forward,” will tickle older readers with their accompanying, comical illustrations. The beautifully simple pictures are a sweet, kid- and parent-appealing blend of comic-strip style and fine art; the cast of children depicted is commendably multiethnic.

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4521-2699-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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Pub Date: March 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5692-8

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‘Cinderella’ Review: Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Fairy Tale Redux Opens at Last

By David Benedict

David Benedict

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Cinderella review Andrew Lloyd Webber

Where do you go after you’ve seen “Wicked”? That worldwide smash has built a vast young audience hungry for stories propelled by power ballads of female empowerment, and it’s clearly that crowd that Andrew Lloyd Webber’s much-delayed new musical version of “ Cinderella ” is eager to please. With actor/singer and internet sensation Carrie Hope Fletcher wholly energizing the new-wine-in-old-bottles story of a self-assured heroine defiantly refusing to fit in with the fairytale world that despises her, he’s halfway there. But the ride he’s written for her with Oscar-winning screenwriter  Emerald Fennell (“Promising Young Woman”) is seriously bumpy.

Our heroine, the black-lipsticked and goth-laced “Bad Cinderella” (as she’s called in the punchy, calling-card number that leads the overture and is reprised on umpteen occasions) lives in Belleville, which, according to lyricist David Zippel, is “a town so picturesque/ every other seems grotesque.” The rest of the population consists of under-dressed men who are buff and manly, and over-dressed women who are blonde and perfect. Not for nothing is the arch, opening scene-setter entitled “Buns’n’Roses.”

But things swiftly go awry when it’s revealed that Cinderella has defaced the new statue, which causes Belleville to lose its crown as “Most Attractive Town.” The waspish Queen – played by Rebecca Trehearn, whose deliciously withering grandeur would give Marie Antoinette pause — is not, to put it mildly, pleased. In part, that’s because the statue is of her dead son Prince Charming. To fill the coffers, she whips up  a royal wedding complete with a ball, at which a wife will be chosen for her hapless and, in her eyes, hopeless second son, Prince Sebastian (young Ivano Turco in his West End debut.)

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Unhappy about this, Sebastian confides in his best friend — who is, natch, Cinderella. And for most of the otherwise predictable first act, everything sticks fairly closely to the standard one-girl-against-the-world plot, peppered by Fennell with faintly dated nods to what used to be called “girl power.” The difference is that Cinderella realizes that she’s is in love with Sebastian. She must get to the ball to marry him before anyone else can.

At which point, after a mix of everything from comic one-liner put-downs to adult-pleasing double-entendres, there’s one of the show’s many tonal lurches when Cinderella finds herself in a cross between a bridal shop and an icy operating theater, presided over by a stalking, Grace Jones-like Godmother (Gloria Onitri, in perilous heels and a voice of doom) who promises her perfect beauty via temporary plastic surgery. For reasons never properly explained, after inveighing against superficiality, Cinderella goes along with it.

Released from the standard fairy-tale plot, the more involving second act goes up a dramatic notch at the ball where Cinderella and Sebastian have a row, after which events take several turns for the unpredictable. But with a vital key character introduced very late, just at the point at which you wish the show and the score would let rip for its climax, several chunks of exposition appear with Fennell’s book bogged down in perilously drawn-out false endings and resolutions.

On the plus side, the show is often fun, with a welcome comic bounce almost entirely absent from Lloyd Webber’s work after “ Starlight Express ” in 1984 until “ School of Rock ” in 2015. Costume designer Gabriela Tylesova has a serious budget and an absolute field day with the sisters (sneering Georgina Castle and Laura Baldwin), and with the succession of ravishingly preposterous costumes and millinery for the stepmother. Detonating every second of her stage time, Victoria Hamilton-Barritt, her body viciously, comically skewed, leaves standard Cruella de Vil antics standing. Instead she kills the audience with constantly surprising line-readings like Zsa-Zsa Gabor crossed with Alan Rickman via Sean Connery’s consonants. Her tart, French-style duet with Trehearn, like a wonderfully mean-spirited revamp of Lerner and Loewe’s “I Remember It Well” from “Gigi,” is the score’s comedy highlight.

With no-holds-barred, on-the-money vocals, Fletcher has the lion’s share of the best numbers. She’s alive to the teen-queen power of the Phil Spector, wall-of-sound-like “I Know I Have A Heart” (because you broke it) and touchingly sincere in beguilingly gentle ballad “Far Too Late.” But director Laurence Connor has not managed to curb Lloyd Webber’s earnestness. Was it really necessary that, at the point of her dreams collapsing, Cinderella should reprise not one, not two, but three of her big numbers in what amounts to a shameless lovestruck megamix?

Connor’s four-square staging is also not helped by choreography that almost always feels symmetrical. The numbers have plenty of well-executed moves but only express a single intention, never building in excitement.

From the book’s adult nods to its wannabe young girl’s guide to feminism, the show entertains moment by moment but rarely adds up. If, for example, Sebastian is supposed to be a non-starter physically, how come he is revealed to be the best dancer?

Its mixed messages are exemplified by Tylesova’s sets. Ignoring lyrics that talk of everyone living in “in Plexiglass houses,” she presents Belleville in folding fairytale cut-outs which, charming in themselves, look peculiar against a permanent, metallic-looking backdrop that gives off the aura of a contemporary sculpture screensaver.

As with all good versions of the story, Tylsevova creates a defining transformation. Unfortunately, it’s not Cinderella who is transformed, it’s the seating. As famously happened with the original incarnation of the composer’s “Cats” at this venue, at the start of the ball scene, the front seating block begins to move round, turning a proscenium-style theatre into an in-the-round space. The effect, aided by lighting designer Bruno Poet’s multiple star-effect lights, is dazzling. But when that’s close to the evening’s most dramatic effect, questions need to be asked. Chief among them: Since this show is so knowing, what is it that it actually knows?

Gillian Lynne Theatre, London; 1,297 seats. £135 ($185) top. Opened, reviewed Aug 18, 2021. Running time: 2 HOURS, 45 MIN.

  • Production: A Really Useful Group, No Guarantees and Len Blavatnik presentation of a musical in two acts, music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, book by Emerald Fennell and lyrics by David Zippel.
  • Crew: Directed by Laurence Connor. Musical direction, Ben van Tienen; musical supervision, John Rigby and David Wilson; choreography by JoAnn M. Hunter. Sets and costumes, Gabriela Tylesova; lighting, Bruno Poet; sound, Gareth Owen; orchestrations, Andrew Lloyd Webber; production stage managers, George Cook and Jo Hinton.
  • Cast: Carrie Hope Fletcher, Ivano Turco, Rebecca Trehearn, Victoria Hamilton-Barritt, Laura Baldwin, Georgina Castle, Gloria Onitiri, Caleb Roberts, Michael Afemaré, Michelle Bishop, Lauren Byrne, Sophie Camble, Tobias Charles, Vinny Coyle, Nicole Deon, Jonathan David Dudley, Michael Hamway, James Lee Harris, Kate Ivory Jordan, Jessica Kirton, Kelsie-Rae Marshall, Sam Robinson, Giovanni Spano, Georgia Tapp, Matthieu Vinetot, Rodney Vubya, Alexandra Waite-Roberts.
  • Music By: Andrew Lloyd Webber (score) and David Zippel (lyrics).

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Table of Contents

About the book, about the authors.

Charles Perrault is the author of the 1697 classic"" Stories or Tales from Times Past,"" which had the added title on the frontispiece, ""Tales of Mother Goose,""

Product Details

  • Publisher: NorthSouth Books (April 1, 2002)
  • Length: 32 pages
  • ISBN13: 9780735814868
  • Ages: 4 - 8

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Is Pink Necessary?

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By Annie Murphy Paul

  • Jan. 21, 2011

The “princess phase.” So inevitable is this period in the maturation of girls today that it should qualify as an official developmental stage, worthy of an entry in Leach or Brazelton: first crawling, then walking, then the urgent desire to wear something pink and spark­ly. Whether we smile indulgently or roll our eyes at the drifts of tulle and chiffon that begin accumulating in our daughters’ rooms around age 4, participation in these royal rituals has come to seem necessary, even natural.

Yet the princess phase, at least in its current hyper-feminine and highly commercial form, is anything but natural, or so Peggy Orenstein argues in “Cinderella Ate My Daughter.” As she tells the story, in 2000 a Disney executive named Andy Mooney went to check out a “Disney on Ice” show and found himself “surrounded by little girls in princess costumes. Princess costumes that were — horrors! — homemade . How had such a massive branding opportunity been overlooked? The very next day he called together his team and they began working on what would become known in-house as ‘Princess.’ ” Mooney’s revelation yielded a bonanza for the company. There are now more than 26,000 Disney Princess items on the market; in 2009, Princess products generated sales of $4 billion.

Disney didn’t have the tiara market to itself for long. Orenstein takes us on a tour of the princess industrial complex, its practices as coolly calculating as its products are soft and fluffy. She describes a toy fair, held at the Javits Center in New York, at which the merchandise for girls seems to come in only one color: pink jewelry boxes, pink vanity mirrors, pink telephones, pink hair dryers, pink fur stoles. “Is all this pink really necessary?” Orenstein finally asks a sales rep.

“Only if you want to make money,” he replies.

The toy fair is one of many field trips undertaken by Orenstein in her effort to stem the frothy pink tide of princess products threatening to engulf her young daughter. The author of “Schoolgirls: Young Women, Self Esteem, and the Confidence Gap,” among other books, Orenstein is flummoxed by the intensity of the marketing blitz aimed at girls barely old enough to read the label on their Bonne Bell Lip Smackers. “I had read stacks of books devoted to girls’ adolescence,” she writes, “but where was I to turn to under­stand the new culture of little girls, from toddler to ‘tween,’ to help decipher the potential impact — if any — of the images and ideas they were absorbing about who they should be, what they should buy, what made them girls ?”

She turns, like many a journalist before her, to the child pageant circuit, the world of sequined “cupcake dresses” and custom-made “flippers” (dental prosthetics that disguise a gap-toothed smile) that has proved irresistible to reporters since the killing of the 6-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey in 1996. To her credit, Orenstein recognizes this as well-trodden ground. “It would be easy pickin’s for me to attack parents who tart up their daughters in hopes of winning a few hundred bucks and a gilded plastic trophy; who train them to shake their tail feathers on command, to blow kisses at the judges and coyly twirl their index fingers into their dimpled cheeks,” she writes. “But really, what would be the point? That story has been told, to great success and profit.”

book review of cinderella

Such meta-observations, which appear throughout the book, are part of Orenstein’s method: she argues with herself, questions her own assumptions, ventures an assertion and then has second thoughts — all in full view of the reader. At times, her assiduously cultivated ambivalence seems to paralyze her; she gets stuck between competing concerns, unable to say anything definitive about what she believes. By and large, however, Orenstein’s reflexive self-interrogation is a good match for her material. It allows her to coax fresh insights from the exhaustively analyzed subject of gender and its discontents.

In the case of child beauty pageants, Orenstein offers a shrewd critique of why media exposés of the phenomenon are so perennially popular. They “give viewers license, under the pretext of disapproval, to be titillated by the spectacle, to indulge in guilty-pleasure voyeurism,” she observes. “They also reassure parents of their own comparative superiority by smugly ignoring the harder questions: even if you agree that pageant moms are over the line in their sexualization of little girls — way over the line — where, exactly, is that line, and who draws it and how?” Orenstein allows us to watch her struggle with these questions, and when she arrives at a few answers, they feel well earned.

Orenstein finds one such enlightening explanation in developmental psychology research showing that until as late as age 7, children are convinced that external signs — clothing, hairstyle, favorite color, choice of toys — determine one’s sex. “It makes sense, then, that to ensure you will stay the sex you were born you’d adhere rigidly to the rules as you see them and hope for the best,” she writes. “That’s why 4-year-olds, who are in what is called ‘the inflexible stage,’ become the self-­appointed chiefs of the gender police. Suddenly the magnetic lure of the Disney Princesses became more clear to me: developmentally speaking, they were genius, dovetailing with the precise moment that girls need to prove they are girls, when they will latch on to the most exaggerated images their culture offers in order to stridently shore up their femininity.” For a preschool girl, a Cinderella dress is nothing less than an existential insurance policy, a crinolined bulwark to fortify a still-shaky sense of identity.

Orenstein is especially sharp-eyed on the subject of what comes after the princess phase, for in the micro-segmented world of marketing to children, there is of course a whole new array of products aimed at girls who begin to tire of their magic wands. These include lines of dolls with names like Moxie Girlz and Bratz: “With their sultry expressions, thickly shadowed eyes and collagen-puffed moues, Bratz were tailor-made for the girl itching to distance herself from all things rose petal pink, Princess-y, or Barbie-ish,” Orenstein notes. “Their hottie-pink ‘passion for fashion’ conveyed ‘attitude’ and ‘sassiness,’ which, anyone will tell you, is little-girl marketing-speak for ‘sexy.’ ”

As Orenstein forges on, braving Toys “R” Us, the American Girl doll store and a Miley Cyrus concert, the reader may occasionally wonder: Is she reading too much into this? After all, it’s just pretend; it’s just play. “To a point I agree,” Orenstein half-concedes, equivocal as ever. “Just because little girls wear the tulle does not mean they’ve drunk the Kool-Aid. Plenty of them shoot baskets in ball gowns or cast themselves as the powerful evil stepsister bossing around the sniveling Cinderella.” By this point the reader knows what’s coming. “Yet even if girls stray from the prescribed script, doesn’t it exert its influence? Don’t our possessions reflect who we are; shape, even define, our experience?”

The author’s process of restless self-examination continues, all the way to the book’s open-ended conclusion. Orenstein has done parents the great favor of having this important debate with herself on paper and in public; she has fashioned an argument with its seams showing and its pockets turned inside out, and this makes her book far more interesting, and more useful. Because the thing about a phase is: kids grow out of it. (The marketers are counting on that.) But parents’ internal deliberations about what’s best for their children are here to stay.


Dispatches from the front lines of the new girlie-girl culture.

By Peggy Orenstein

244 pp. Harper/HarperCollins Publishers. $25.99.

Annie Murphy Paul is the author of “Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives.”

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book review of cinderella

Book Review: “So This is Love: A Twisted Tale”

book review of cinderella

“The sweetest story ever told” gets retold in a new way in So This is Love: A Twisted Tale  by Elizabeth Lim from Disney Hyperion. The series takes classic Disney stories and adds a twist that causes them to go off in a different direction, almost like a parallel universe. This time around, the twist is on the story of Cinderella : What if she never tried on the glass slipper?

The book starts with the Grand Duke arriving at Lady Tremaine’s house with the glass slipper. Locked in her tower, Cinderella’s mice are unable to free her and she never gets to try on the slipper. What’s worse is that her wicked stepmother has sold her into indentured servitude in another kingdom, with Bruno coming to her rescue. She finds herself accepting the kindness of a stranger who secures a job for her at the palace where things are a little more complicated than they seem.

This version of Cinderella  twists things further than simply making it so Cinderella never tries on the glass slipper. Entire character’s are amended, with the Grand Duke becoming a villain now that Lady Tremaine is not part of the main storyline. Prince Charming is given a name (Charles), as is the Fairy Godmother (Lenore), and the kingdom (Aurelais).

So This is Love  adds in some plot elements from other works, particularly Charles Perrault’s version of Cinderella  by having the kingdom throw another ball after being unsuccessful in finding the mystery girl that captured the Prince’s heart. There is civil unrest that the King and Prince are unaware of, which was added to the recent stage adaptation of Roger & Hammerstein’s Cinderella , which also made the Grand Duke a secondary villain. And magic is forbidden from the kingdom, which feels a little derivative of Maleficent . That last add-in is the reason why the Fairy Godmother is unable to intervene this time around.

Cinderella is assigned to the King’s sister Genevieve, who has recently returned to the palace after spending years away. Her uniform includes a wig, which is why Prince Charles doesn’t recognize her when they pass in the halls. As for why Cinderella doesn’t just tell him who she is, she’s full of fear that he will reject her if he finds out that she’s a palace servant. While she’s happy to be free of her oppressive stepmother, she’s also full of heartache every time she sees him, especially as the Grand Duke plans for an arranged marriage if they can’t find the girl who fits the glass slipper in time.

Elizabeth Lim’s previous Twisted Tale , Reflection , is my favorite so far in the series and So This is Love  is another exciting read. She remains true to the character of Cinderella and this version of the story also allows her and Charles to fall in love through more than just a dance, adding a new emotional layer to the tale. It’s an exciting twist on a familiar story that will lift your spirits and make you root for love and happy endings.

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Camila Cabello's 'Cinderella' Finds Its Modern Form As A Musical Ode To Girlbosses

Linda Holmes

Linda Holmes

book review of cinderella

Nicholas Galitzine and Camila Cabello in Cinderella . Christopher Raphael/Amazon Studios hide caption

Nicholas Galitzine and Camila Cabello in Cinderella .

What happens when you throw a ton of great talent at a listless idea?

The new Cinderella that's out on Amazon this weekend is not a good idea. The concept apparently originated with James Corden , our sweatiest late-night host (comedically, not literally) and one of the stars of Cats , a movie that has done for hallucinogens what Oreos did for milk.

Loosely stated, the concept is that Cinderella is now what we might call a girlboss, played by pop diva Camila Cabello. She does have a stepmother, and she does have stepsisters, and she does live in the basement. But rather than being stuck doing menial chores, she just hangs out down there and designs dresses, which makes her life probably one that a lot of crafty young women would envy, except for the fact that she has mice for friends (they are voiced by Corden, Romesh Ranganathan, and James Acaster). She dreams of her own dressmaking empire, while singing and longing and so forth.

Her prince is named Robert (...sure) and is played by Nicholas Galitzine, who has chiseled cheekbones, an earring, and often a tiny upturned thumb of hair just above his forehead. Your brain will try to tell you he has probably been making Disney Channel musicals since he was 14, but it's lying to you. There's a good chance he's not familiar to you; he just seems like the weighted average of all the guys who could play a prep school villain on a procedural or the detective's son who turns out to be the real murderer in a prestige drama. Robert is an ambivalent prince whose sister Gwen (a woefully underdeveloped character given the weight the story tries to place on her) is better-qualified for leadership than he is, and while he is constantly pursued by veritable scads of women, he only has eyes for this young woman he saw in town.

With a song in your heart

There is also music. This is a musical Cinderella , but it is not the musical Cinderella you know either from the Disney cartoon or from the Rodgers & Hammerstein show in which both Julie Andrews and Brandy have starred. Instead, it's primarily a pop jukebox musical, using extant songs within scenes the same way you'd use original songs.

The jukebox musical — or the library musical, I suppose you could call it, since "jukebox musical" now seems mostly reserved for single-artist shows like Mamma Mia! -- is a long and honorable tradition. No less a standard than Singin' In The Rain used mostly existing songs from other musicals; the song "Singin' In The Rain" wasn't even written for it. So the fact that the songs here, while they include a couple of originals, are mostly things like "You Gotta Be" by Des'ree and the Jennifer Lopez hit "Let's Get Loud" isn't as weird as it might seem.

It is a little weird that the film opens with a montage of the townspeople, who look kind of generally old-timey as you might see in a fairy-tale kingdom, performing their daily tasks and singing "Rhythm Nation." (This also means that if you watch with the captions on, you will see that at one point, the mice are "squeaking 'Rhythm Nation.'") More than once, I found myself watching all this and thinking ... why does this exist? There are plenty of versions of Cinderella , and some have music. Why do we need one that starts with "Rhythm Nation"?

People who need people

Despite the fact that this movie doesn't make a very good case on a conceptual level for its existence, what it has in spades is talent. The director and writer is Kay Cannon, who also made Pitch Perfect . She's genuinely exactly the right person to head up this kind of effort, and her comedy skills shine in little moments like the choir that starts to chime in during an argument between Robert and his father, played by Pierce Brosnan. There are absolutely solid pieces of comedy business here, and the sillier they get, the better they work (she also wrote for 30 Rock ).

book review of cinderella

Camila Cabello and Billy Porter get sparkly in Cinderella . Kerry Brown/Amazon Studios hide caption

Camila Cabello and Billy Porter get sparkly in Cinderella .

They've also stacked the deck with people who are very beloved by fandoms of various sizes: Cabello, Billy Porter (playing the fabulous godparent or "Fab G"), Idina Menzel, Minnie Driver, and I suppose James Corden. I also watched with bated breath to see whether Pierce Brosnan would "sing" again as he did in Mamma Mia! , and suffice it to say Cannon's solution to this did not disappoint. Billy Porter does a few minutes of high-octane Billy Porter-ing, Idina Menzel hits some high notes, and Minnie Driver remains one of my absolute favorite comic actresses. They've put a lot of people to work here, and they all do just fine.

What does disappoint is the watery effort to make this story feel satisfyingly feminist. I wrote about Cinderella as an enduring idea back in 2015, and one of the few things that's consistent across the many retellings of it is that it's a story about status: a lower-status person has to persuade a higher-status person to literally recognize her as the person he loves when she is not in disguise as someone who shares his status. Here, there's an effort to modernize, which is always a potentially interesting way to approach a folk tale. But the way they go about it is a blunt shortcut, where instead of anyone on any side of the equation thinking that it matters that he's a prince and she's a commoner, the issue is that she doesn't want the constricting position of princess, because she wants to sell dresses.

In other words, the stakes are no longer really part of Cinderella folklore where the question is the viability of love across status divides; they are part of Hallmark-movie folklore where a woman wants to fall in love and also have a successful small business. That's not to say the updating has no charm: There are some nice grace notes — that, again, I credit to Cannon's comedy talent — in which trappings like carrying a woman in your arms are affectionately teased through a sort of feminist-ish lens. And Cabello does just fine, even if the character is sometimes sort of a YouTube makeup tutorial/daily affirmation in human form.

A Girl, A Shoe, A Prince: The Endlessly Evolving Cinderella

A Girl, A Shoe, A Prince: The Endlessly Evolving Cinderella

But it's crucial to note, any time you see something promoted as a thing you haven't seen anyone try before (Amazon presents this as a "bold new take"), that those claims are often exaggerated. In fact, Cinderella , like any folk tale, does nothing but adapt to its time; even the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical doesn't draw Cinderella as passively as some old versions do. And the 1998 movie Ever After , starring Drew Barrymore — which is my personal favorite film adaptation — tries to bend the notions of passivity and rescue that infect old tellings, without abandoning the central themes of status and acceptance. That film plays with the relationships with the stepmother and stepsisters in some of the same ways this one does, except without everyone singing, you know, "Rhythm Nation."

Cannon also wrote and directed Blockers , a film that's much more successful as a bending of a familiar story (there, the idea of teenagers trying to lose their virginity) in a way that really did seem feminist and fresh. As I noted in 2015, though, it's hard to write a Cinderella story at all if you don't build in the idea of a person who might reject someone they fall in love with based on status. Without that element, without that risk, it's perhaps got one less trap to fall into, but I'm not sure it's Cinderella . Because Cinderella isn't about mice or dances or fireplaces; it's about an elemental fear: This person would never love me if they knew who I was.

The problem with an adaptation that wanders this far afield is that it becomes difficult to gracefully incorporate basic elements that people expect to see. Why, for instance, does Cinderella need to run away from the ball at midnight? With the story done this way, where her identity is not ever really a secret to the prince, what is she doing? The answer seems to be that she runs from the ball because it's Cinderella , but even a movie where magic helps you walk in high heels needs more internal logic than that.

It's hard to describe something with this many nice touches as bad; it will make a nice weekend watch for a lot of people, I think. But it also feels uncomfortably algorithmic, an exercise that shows that if you don't start with much of a foundation, there's only so much fancy dress you can drape all over it.

  • Book Review: Finding Cinderella by Colleen Hoover


Book Review Finding Cinderella by Colleen Hoover

My thoughts about Finding Cinderella by Colleen Hoover

book review of cinderella

The book synopsis for  Finding Cinderella   by Colleen Hoover

Book cover Finding Cinderella by Colleen Hoover

Discussing  Finding Cinderella   by Colleen Hoover

Quotes from  Finding Cinderella by Colleen Hoover

“God, this sucks, man. The only good thing about this entire school since you moved is fifth period.” “What’s fifth period?” Holder asks. “Nothing. They forgot to assign me a class, so I hide out in this maintenance closet every day for an hour.”
Her breath tastes like Starburst and it makes me want to keep kissing her until I can identify every single flavor.
“I am so not a virgin,” she says. “That’s why it’s sad. I’m pretty skilled in the sex department, but looking back . . . I’ve never loved any of them. None of them have ever loved me, either. Sometimes I wonder if sex with someone who actually loves you is different. Better.”
My favorite part about you though is when I catch you staring at me. I love that you don’t look away and you stare unapologetically, like you aren’t ashamed that you can’t stop watching me. It’s all you want to do because you think I’m the most amazing thing you’ve ever laid eyes on. I love how much you love me.”
I’ve been waiting patiently for Six’s flaws to stand out, but so far I can’t find any. Granted, we’ve only interacted with each other for a collective three or four hours now, so hers may just be buried deeper than other people’s.
“Ignore it all. I want to kiss you and I want you to want me to kiss you and I don’t really feel like waiting until I walk you to your porch tonight because I’ve never really wanted to kiss someone this much before.”
“Don’t open your eyes,” I whisper, still staring at her. “Give me ten more seconds to stare, because you look absolutely beautiful right now.”
“We all have deal breakers, Daniel. Some of us just hope we can keep them hidden forever.”
She’s smiling when I look at her again. “Oh, there are definitely expectations,” she says teasingly. “I expect this to be the most mind-blowing thing I’ve ever experienced, so you better deliver.”
“I have no interest in faking disinterest,” I say. “If you want to call yourself my girlfriend half as much as I wish you would, then it would save me a whole lot of begging. Because I was literally about to drop to my knees and beg you.”
“Are you a witch?” I ask. Her laugh returns and I suddenly don’t care if she’s a witch. If this is some kind of spell she’s put on me, I hope it never breaks.
That’s exactly what this feels like. Like she’s a drug I’ve become immediately addicted to, but I have none in supply. The only thing that satiates the craving is her laugh. Or her smile or her kiss or the feel of her pressed against me.
“I thought your window was out of commission.” “Only to people with penises.” I laugh. “What if I told you I didn’t have a penis?” She glances at me. “I would probably rejoice. My experiences with people who have penises never end well.”
She shoves my chest. “Stop! Stop saying things that make me grin like an idiot. My face has been hurting since the second I met you.”
“For real,” I say. “You’re my best friend and I love you. I’m not ashamed to admit that I love a guy. I love you, Holder. Daniel Wesley loves Dean Holder. Always and forever.”
Whatever this is between us, neither one of us was searching for it. Neither one of us knew it even existed. Neither one of us is even remotely prepared for it, but I know we both want it. She wants this to work with me as much as I want it to work with her and seeing the look in her eyes right now makes me believe that it will. I’ve never believed in anything like I believe in the possibility of the two of us.

book review of cinderella

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Book Review Finding Cinderella by Colleen Hoover

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book review of cinderella


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A chance encounter in the dark leads eighteen-year-old Daniel and the girl who stumbles across him to profess their love for each other. But this love comes with conditions: they agree it will only last one hour and it will only be make-believe.

When their hour is up and the girl rushes off like Cinderella, Daniel tries to convince himself that what happened between them only seemed perfect because they were pretending it was perfect. Moments like that with girls like her don’t happen outside of fairytales.

One year and one bad relationship later, his disbelief in insta-love is stripped away the day he meets Six: a girl with a strange name and an even stranger personality. Daniel soon realizes the way he pretended to feel about Cinderella and the way he really feels about Six may not be so different after all. Especially when the two loves of his life end up being one in the same.

Unfortunately for Daniel, finding Cinderella doesn’t guarantee their happily ever after…it only further threatens it.

BOOK REVIEW: Finding Cinderella

Colleen hoover.

Book Series:  Hopeless

book review of cinderella

“I’ve never believed in anything like I believe in the possibility of the two of us.”

Oh my God, can this woman write a bad book just for kicks? No, this is not just a novella, it is not just a little add-on story to an already stellar series, and this is definitely not a re-hash of anything we’ve already seen in Hopeless or Losing Hope – this is the story that fills all the little gaps we never even knew needed filling and it is the story that makes us fall in love with the two secondary characters as much as we loved Holder and Sky. It is also a testament to the fact that Colleen Hoover doesn’t need 400 pages to make you feel with every crevice of your heart and that when it comes to telling a story through witty but emotionally-charged dialogues or creating loveable, engaging characters, she is unrivalled. I knew this story would be great but I never even imagined a novella could be this spectacular.

“I don’t even know your phone number,” I say. “I don’t even know your birthday,” she says. “You’re the worst girlfriend I’ve ever had.”

We met Daniel and Six in previous instalments of the series as Holder and Sky’s best friends, two outspoken, sarcastic, but fiercely loyal individuals who supported their best friends through thick and thin, and now we get to see them in the limelight. By knowing all the other characters and the main storyline in such detail, no time is wasted on introductions or setups of scenes – we get to immediately zoom into their story and enjoy the ride.

“How do you make love to someone you aren’t in love with?” I lean forward until my mouth is next to her ear. “We pretend.”

I refuse to spoil any of their story for you, however, not because of its length, but because I knew very little going in and I am grateful for that as not knowing what to expect was half the fun in this case. I will only tell you that their tale starts with one fated encounter that forever changes who they are and what they hope to find in life. The rest of their story is a delightful account of a boy and a girl falling head over heels for one another, and learning what love is through that experience. Their captivating personalities and the amusing dialogues between them drive the story forward and keep us engrossed page after page.

“Are you a witch? … I have no idea who you even are and now you’re my damn girlfriend. What the hell have you done to me?”

This is a book that had me laughing out loud, constantly catching myself smiling like a fool, and even had me shed a few heart-clenching tears at times. My emotions were all over the place because every word meant something, every scene counted, and every sentence struck the right chord. If you’ve loved Hopeless and Losing Hope as desperately as I have, I have no doubt that you will adore Six and Daniel’s beautiful story. They say you can’t improve on perfection – I guess Ms Hoover just did.

While this story could be read as a standalone novella, I personally would not recommend doing so without first reading the other two books in the series as it follows a parallel timeline and some knowledge of events and other characters would enhance the overall reading experience.

“Stop! Stop saying things that make me grin like an idiot. My face has been hurting since the second I met you.”

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6 comments hide comments.

Great Review!! I love Colleen Hoover and her works, especially the Hopeless Series. Adding a short novella about Six and Daniel is just great. October 14th can’t get here fast enough!

Hi! Great Review, I still haven’t read books by Colleen Hoover, but they are in my wishlist!

PS: I’m italian and I don’t write English very well, so I’m sorry if there are grammatical errors. ^^

Your English is perfect! Complimenti! xxx

Thank you! ^^

Hey! I just read your review and honestly, I loved it. Well, I myself am a die-hard fan of Ms. Hoover’s writings and your review made me feel like “Oh! She is just writing my heart out” so thank you for doing that.

P.S: I was looking for your Ugly Love review. Couldn’t find it.

Thank you for reading. And the reason you couldn’t find my review of Ugly Love is because I never reviewed it. I did enjoy it very much though.

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Rebecca Trehearn as the Queen, with Sam Robinson (Dorian), Vinny Coyle (Arthur) and Giovanni Spano (Gawain) in Cinderella.

Cinderella review – not so much a ball as a blast

Gillian Lynne theatre, London

Bewitching melodies abound as Andrew Lloyd Webber’s terrifically OTT but warm and inclusive musical finally arrives

D elayed by a year because of the pandemic, and with last month’s opening night postponed at the 11th hour , Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new musical is finally up and running. It arrives late but in high fashion with outre gowns, bare-chested swordplay, brutal high heels and whip-smart humour. It’s worth the wait.

The original story and book by Emerald Fennell have heart and a torrent of barbed wit, exposing the faulty morals in traditional fairytales without scrimping on glittering trimmings. David Zippel’s crystalline lyrics are attuned to Fennell’s dialogue, cheekily satirical yet wistful and uplifting too. Lord Lloyd-Webber’s richly enjoyable orchestrations range from grand waltzes, courtly processionals and marches to deftly pastiched and deeply felt romanticism, power-balladry, a splash of chanson and rollicking guitar riffs. Bewitching melodies abound: some refrains are practically iridescent, revealing new tones from scene to scene.

Carrie Hope Fletcher as Cinderella and Victoria Hamilton-Barritt as her stepmother.

Laurence Connor’s production starts with a salvo against fairytale bunkum: the shock news is that Prince Charming is dead. Moreover, someone has graffitied his memorial statue. Fennell is up to something similar as she defaces and rewrites myths about femininity, masculinity and heroism, with the keen eye for gender politics she showed in Promising Young Woman.

Our setting is the immaculately preened Belleville. “There’s no town that can compete – frankly if they could we’d cheat,” boast the well-honed citizens in an exuberant opener marked by fanfares and comically fussy staccato. Belleville is famed for sweet roses and creamy milk: a town buffed to perfection where hot buns are not solely the preserve of the bakery.

With her grasping and vain stepsisters (Georgina Castle and Laura Baldwin) simply reflecting the town spirit, Cinders sticks out. But Fennell defines her through defiance rather than duty and she never looks likely to chatter with magical birds. In the first of several superb solos, Bad Cinderella, Carrie Hope Fletcher owns the rebellious reputation Cinders has been given. Sneering and raging, she is another of Lloyd Webber’s outsiders and akin to Dewey Finn in School of Rock. Belleville’s prim musical motifs recall those for the elite institution where Finn caused chaos. Fletcher slips brilliantly into her character with winning appeal, her despair revealed in Unbreakable, which evokes Close Every Door from Joseph.

Newcomer Ivano Turco, who graduated last summer, is equally excellent as Prince Charming’s downbeat brother, Sebastian, forced to marry and take the throne, jeopardising his friendship with Cinderella. Turco delicately delivers the tender ebb and flow of his ballad Only You, Lonely You. The finale shows him to be a mean mover but he has a keen physicality throughout: awkward in public, at ease with Cinderella. The couple’s teasing relationship is captured in an affecting, informal song together, So Long, rather than sealed in a passionate duet: this is a celebration of being mates rather than a quest to find a mate, as Sebastian is instructed.

Ivano Turco as Sebastian.

We get, in effect, two transformations as Sebastian and Cinderella both try out new guises at the ball, where he must choose a bride. Cinders sets out to look as hot as “volcanic ash” in the cautionary Beauty Has a Price, a duet with Gloria Onitiri (fantastic as the godmother). Capturing the allure of conforming to beauty ideals that would allow Cinderella to “disappear me”, it’s the darkest comedy of extreme corsetry since Haus of Holbein in the West End hit Six. One of the show’s triumphs is how those malevolent strings and that macabre keyboard can seamlessly turn sweet. But I missed the gear change provided by the rambunctious odyssey The Vanquishing of the Three-Headed Sea Witch, a highlight in the original cast recording album yet cut from the show.

As she proved singing Zippel’s lyrics in City of Angels at the Donmar, you can always count on Rebecca Trehearn and she plays the Queen with lascivious glee; her knowing duet with Cinderella’s stepmother (a rasping Victoria Hamilton-Barritt) is delivered as if straight from a Pigalle cafe.

Designer Gabriela Tylesova literally upends the fairytale town in a rococo frame around the stage and a neat revolve takes us into the heart of a waltz, elegantly lit by Bruno Poet and choreographed by Joann M Hunter. Tylesova and Hunter outdo themselves with the irresistible number Man’s Man, whose thrusting, leather-clad chorus seems to have escaped from Magic Mike Live’s West End residency.

It adds up to not so much a ball as a blast: terrifically OTT and silly but warm and inclusive, with relatable, down-to-earth heroes and pertinent points about our quest for perfection and our expectations of each other and ourselves.

Booking at the Gillian Lynne theatre, London, until 13 February

  • Andrew Lloyd Webber
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Heidi Dischler

Book review: finding cinderella by colleen hoover.

Today, I’m going to review Finding Cinderella by Colleen Hoover for you guys. I’m usually not a fan of novellas, but this one was just so  freaking  adorable. You won’t regret it if you’ve read  Hopeless and want a little more from the characters in that book. 

Book Information

In this novella from the world of  Hopeless , Daniel finds the girl of his dreams. There’s only one problem, though. He doesn’t know who she is. After a chance encounter in the janitor’s closet with no lights, Daniel thinks he would be able to recognize his Cinderella anywhere. However, when Six comes back from Italy and she and Daniel meet, Daniel thinks he’s found his girl, but it’s a lot more complicated than it seems. 

Finding Cinderella

Review | Heidi Dischler

Let me start out with this: Daniel is an… interesting character. He is goofy, definitely there for comedic relief in  Hopeless,  and, to be completely honest, not a character who you could see falling in love. It was so adorable, though, seeing his personality in all its wonders as he found someone who fit well with him romantically. 

This is definitely one of those books that you pick up and finish in a few hours. It was a quick read for me and I found it so much more enjoyable than  Losing Hope (mainly because you get a whole new storyline instead of the exact thing you had read before). Daniel was definitely an interesting enough character to propel the book forward, and after all the reveals happened, this book became even more intriguing. 

Overall, this short novella by Colleen Hoover will give you all the feels (as CoHo normally does), and you won’t be left disappointed. You’ll be even more elated after reading  Finding Perfect , the next novella (and last) in this series. That one… that one stole my heart. 

Source: Personal Copy

“Because it feels like her air just became my air and I suddenly want to take in fewer breaths in order to ensure she never runs out.”

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Book Review: Cinderella Ate My Daughter

book review of cinderella

Peggy Orenstein’s Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches From The Front Lines of the Girlie-Girl Culture (Harper, 2011) addresses the conflict that arises when culture begins to define little girls. A mother and writer, Orenstein grapples on a personal level with the values she wants to instill in her daughter and how Disney princesses and the messages of identity that they send our daughters encroach upon those values. Resisting the princess culture is a hard-won battle, but as Orenstein shows us in the end of her book, and her daughter’s fifth year of Disney consumption, it is possible.

Every mother and father today is forced to contend with the Disney princess culture that appropriates in very subtle ways the way our girls see themselves. The princess war is quite controversial, even among mommy bloggers, for there are a great many sites dedicated to redefining girls so that Barbies and princesses do not have a louder and more detrimental influence upon girls than their actual parents.

A billion dollar industry, girls cannot go anywhere without being exposed to the pinkified, girlified, and Disneyfied mentality that represents the princess existence. As Orenstein points out in very frustrated yet profound ways, navigating our daughters safely through this treacherous and unempowering girlie-girl culture of tiaras and makeup is like being in the “front lines” of war. The kind of war we cannot win simply by attacking head-on. We have to be smarter, wiser, and more patient.

The enemy does not only consist of Disney marketers and Andy Mooney, the Nike executive who saw a need and fed the need for princesses all over the world, but also a culture that doesn’t see anything wrong with dressing little girls like dolls, with princess gowns, tiaras, and shiny, glittery glass slippers with heels. While the staunch and empowered feminists from the Victorian era up to the seventies fought to give us an identity complete with voice, power, and choices, it seems that our choice as a culture insists on finding power through our looks. And many women fall for it.

Orenstein quotes Susan Douglas’ Enlightened Sexism, wherein Douglas posits that in today’s culture,

We can excel in school, play sports, go to college, aspire to—and get jobs—previously reserved for men, be working mothers, and so forth. But in exchange we must obsess about our faces, weight, breast size, clothing brands, decorating, perfectly calibrated child-rearing, about pleasing men and being envied by other women. (p. 18)

Douglas accurately depicts here what is going on in our society and why mothers are so insistent on glorifying and proliferating the princess culture. Subconsciously, we are apologizing to men for appropriating masculine power once we embark on their public spheres of businesses and making profit. We have to remind them that we are still women, soft, pliable, and ready-for-bed. We may make as much money as they do, but we are still women—their women. And we can be subdued.

But as much as this subtle and unvoiced acquiescence exists between men and women, our girls suffer because of it. As toddlers they are princess-ed, but by the time they reach pre-pubescence, they are all raunched out. They learn about sex and being sexy long before they should even know the terms, let alone act on them.

Our little princesses learn the art of pleasing others by looking pretty and cute, twirling in circles, their glittery dresses sporting Ariel, the princess who gave up her voice to get a man; Cinderella, the abused princess who lived in tatters until her Prince came and gave her riches; Belle, an avid reader who yearned for adventure but settled for only one—the love of a gruff and undeserving beast; Snow White, the sweet and domesticated princess who took care of and cleaned up after men; and Sleeping Beauty, who slept away her life until a man came into it and awoke her with a kiss.

Our pre-pubescent girls on the other hand, learn the power their sex appeal—via their dress and makeup and jewelry—has on the members of the opposite sex. By the time they are twelve, they know how to wield power over boys through sex—and not for their own pleasure, but for popularity and the approval of the boys in their school.

And because of this, the princess and raunch culture that persists in defining our girls’ identities and potential, our girls are suffering. Orenstein addresses this issue through research conducted by the American Psychological Association. According to them,

the girlie-girl culture’s emphasis on beauty and play-sexiness can increase girls’ vulnerability to the pitfalls that most concern parents: depression, eating disorders, distorted body image, risky sexual behavior. (6)

When some people ask, what’s the harm, here is the answer. This is the harm. The men and women who market all these toys targeted for girls—all pink and purple and glittery—strollers, babies, princesses, Bratz, and Barbies—these men and women don’t care about our kids—our girls. They care about the money. Short and simple.

When we purchase these products, we enable these businesses, and we enable what is happening to our girls—we enable the eating disorders, the early sexual behaviors, the negative body images, the nastiness that occurs between girls, and even the entitlement that boys have over girls.

We represent the culture that we live in—we help define it—and we enable it to progress as it does. This Princess culture—the Barbie and Bratz cultures—they all thrive because we think there is no harm in them. Perhaps because we come from childhoods that didn’t have them. But the harm is ever-present. It exists. These products are detrimental to our girls and our culture. We are raising over-sexualized children. We are raising unempowered and objectified girls who objectify themselves for the approval of others. And we are raising boys who benefit from it.

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From pauperess to princess ... Cinderella’s two-thousand year metamorphosis

From greek geographer strabo to disney, cinderella has become a classic fairy tale.

“Cinderella” (2015) was directed by Kenneth Branagh.

By Hanna Seariac

Editor’s note: This story was originally published on May 15, 2023. It has been updated.

In modern American culture, one of the most popular fairy tales remains Cinderella.

There are dozens of adaptations like “Ella Enchanted,” “Cendrillon” and “A Cinderella Story,” which have made the pauperess turned princess famous.

From its ancient origins to modern adaptations, the story has changed, expanded and developed into the well-known iconic story which persists today.

Here’s a look back on how the French folk tale transformed into an iconic, classic cinematic franchise. She’s become a pop culture icon. Growing up, on the days where I didn’t want to be Belle, I wanted to be Cinderella. Her sweeping, sparkling blue dress, her beauty and her kindness inspired me, just like she’s inspired millions of girls and women everywhere.

Origin of the Cinderella story

Once upon a time, Greek geographer Strabo recorded an old Egyptian tale about a Greek woman named Rhodopis. An eagle snatched up her sandal and flew with it from Naucratis to Memphis. An investigation for her scandal launched as suitors scattered around searching for it. The one who found it married her.

Other ancient writers referenced this tale, which some consider one of the origins of the Cinderella story. Fairy tales and folk tales are transmitted orally and there are often variations of them across different cultures because they speak to universal themes.

This is true of other folk-tales, too, like Snow White. Folklorist Maria Tatar looked at the global phenomenon of the Snow White story. In her book “The Fairest of Them All,” Tatar compiled 21 variations of the Snow White story, which at its core is about a beautiful girl and her jealous and cruel stepmother.

Like other fairy tales, the Brothers Grimm pushed Cinderella into the forefront. The tale was originally rather gruesome, but Walt Disney transformed it into a classic movie.

In turn, Cinderella became the icon she is, blue dress and all. But it wasn’t the only story about Cinderella.

Cinderella, ca. 1890-1895 by Jenny Nystrøm (1854-1946).

The story of Cinderella is a universal one. Just like how when Cinderella (2015) came out, many mother and daughter pairs went to see it in theaters together, the story has had similar broad appeal stretching several generations back.

J.R.R. Tolkien in “On Fairy Stories” summed up this idea, “It is plain enough that fairy-stories (in wider or in narrower sense) are very ancient indeed. Related things appear in very early records; and they are found universally, wherever there is language.” While, as Tolkien points out, Cinderella has a prominent connection to French culture, it functions in the way he describes — as an ancient, universal story.

As it’s a universal story, there have been other early versions of the story. There was a ninth-century Chinese tale, “Ye Xian,” in which the eponymic character is granted a wish that she uses to try to find a husband. As Kelsey McKinney for Vox puts it, “A monarch comes in possession of the shoe (this time, the shoes have a gold fish-scale pattern) and goes on a quest to find the woman whose tiny feet will fit the shoe. Ye Xian’s beauty convinces the king to marry her, and the mean stepmother is crushed by stones in her cave home.”

The History of Cinderella, or, The little glass slipper (1852).

There were versions from Japan like Chūjō-hime, who ran away from her evil stepmother and became a Buddhist nun, or a Korean version of the tale (the story of Kongji), according to New World Encyclopedia . In 1634, there was an Italian version called “La Gatta Cenerentola,” or “The Hearth Cat,” by Giambattista Basile. It was from this version that the most popular Cinderella tale began to emerge.

Charles Perrault and Grimm Brothers’ ‘Cinderella’

The version that the modern story of Cinderella is most commonly traced to is “Cendrillon,” which was published in 1697 by French author Charles Perrault. NPR said this version “brings together many of the elements popularized by the 1950 Disney cartoon: the fairy godmother, the transformed pumpkin, the glass slipper, the midnight spell.” It’s the version that the modern story of Cinderella is most commonly traced to.

There was another version of the Cinderella story which was published in 1812 by the Brothers Grimm, also known as Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. This version has some recognizable elements, like the birds helping her as she transforms into a beautiful princess, the stepsisters and a prince.

Her dress and shows are gold.

This version is also more gruesome than other versions. Birds attack the stepsisters as a punishment and the sisters take desperate measures to put their feet in the shoes. Unlike the magical beauty of the Disney movies, there’s blood and gore.

Cinderella and the Fairy Godmother by William Henry Margetson.

The Brothers Grimm version departs from Perrault in a couple of key ways. For one, Cinderella has slippers made out of gold in the former, while the latter describes her slippers as glass. Perrault wrote , “Her godmother then touched her with her wand, and, at the same instant, her clothes turned into cloth of gold and silver, all beset with jewels. This done, she gave her a pair of glass slippers, the prettiest in the whole world.”

On the other hand, Madame d’Aulnoy’s version, which was published in 1697 — same year as Perrault — describes her slippers as velvet. So, Cinderella’s slippers have been different materials throughout adaptations. Nevertheless, it’s the glass slippers which come to define Cinderella.

Cinderella became a popular tale to adapt to ballet and opera. Several different adaptations emerged from the late 1700s onward, per New World Encyclopedia . Some of them included Jean-Louis Laruette’s 1749 “Cendrillon” or Gustv Holst’s 1901-1902 “Cinderella.”

The Cinderella story became embedded in culture, but especially when Walt Disney took on the project of adapting it to animated film.

Movie poster for Cinderella.

Why do we love princess tales?

Princess tales have archetypes of different princesses with the ability for girls and women to connect to them. Lottie Johnson reported on a study for Deseret News that broke down components of what girls love about princesses.

The categories were royalists, dreamers and girls. In other words, some girls connect to the royal lifestyle of beautiful dresses and crowns. Others resonate with the romance and adventure of princess tales. And others are empowered by seeing princesses encounter opposition and succeed.

Beyond these broad categories being apparent in princess tales, there are other components of them that are universal. Dorio Sato observed how folk-tales have a universal message about human nature or experience “that is so fundamental to human existence that it is true for all people of all time periods and cultures.”

Take the Snow White tale, for instance. Tatar showed how a version of this tale existed across different cultures with universal elements such as the relationship between a daughter and stepmother/mother, the experience of violence and romance as a type of rescue or escape from difficult circumstances.

The Cinderella story has some of those common elements: difficult relationship between daughter and stepmother/mother, dreaming of leaving tough circumstances, the hope of romance and the victory of the protagonist.

One of the ways the Cinderella story resonated with me was especially shown in the 2015 Disney adaptation. She does don the dress and the slippers, gets her hair done up and has a magical evening, but it’s not defining.

Cinderella fully embraces the experience, but her values of kindness and inner beauty are expressed as her defining attributes. The show doesn’t reject the value and fun of dressing up and feeling beauty — it emphasizes the core parts of her in addition to appreciating those kinds of experience.

In other words, Cinderella taught me to feel beautiful, but also to see kindness as a primary attribute of beauty.

What is the true Cinderella story?

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful girl whose mother passed away. Her father remarried a jealous woman with two daughters. Seeing that the girl was more beautiful and good than her own daughters, her stepmother forced her to do the worst chores and didn’t show her warmth or love.

The girl was eventually nicknamed Cinderella because she would warm up by the fireplace full of ashes. As she endured this mistreatment, a bachelor prince announced a ball and Cinderella prepared her stepsisters for the ball, and longed to go herself.

She lost hope when she saw them leave and then, a fairy godmother appeared and transformed ordinary objects into a pumpkin carriage with footmen, a beautiful gown and glass slippers. She went to the ball and danced with the prince but had to run away at the stroke of midnight, otherwise all the godmother had transformed would return to its original state.

Cinderella slipped away and had to leave behind one of her glass slippers.

The prince began her quest to find whose foot would fit the slipper. The stepsisters tried desperately, but to no avail. Eventually, the prince found Cinderella and saw the slipper fit. The two married and as the story goes, they lived happily ever after.

What is Cinderella’s full name?

It depends on the story. Omaha World Herald said there’s many different versions of Cinderella and her name isn’t always given or it’s not consistent. In some versions of the story, her name is Ella and she’s nicknamed Cinderella because she warms up by the dying fire after a hard day of work.

What does the glass slipper symbolize?

The glass slippers may have actually been intended as a joke. Genevieve Warwick, professor of history of art, said to The Guardian the glass slipper was “a witty joke” and it was a “literary mascot of French economic modernity.”

Warwick further explained Perrault’s reference to glass slippers could have been in relation to the opulence of the French monarchy.

What’s the purpose of the Cinderella tale?

The Cinderella tale offers a commentary on economic classes.

In the tale, Cinderella is born to a wealthy family. For one reason or another, she’s left alone with her stepmother and even though she was born into the upper-middle class, she becomes destitute. Throughout the tale, she works hard and eventually, her hard work is rewarded while the stepsisters are left wanting.

It’s both a sympathetic and aspirational story — one that particularly resonates with Americans perhaps because of the concept of the American dream. “Americans have idealized stories such as those of Horatio Alger and the self made man making it ironic that Cinderella stores have gained such popular as Cinderella deals with a noble, middle class, or upper class female who has lost her riches and must reclaim her proper standing in the world,” Kristen Friedman wrote in a University of Albany paper .

While Cinderella isn’t self-made in the traditional sense, a similar theme runs throughout her story, which may account for some of her popularity. The universality of Cinderella’s class mobility have the potential to resonate with many different readers.

It’s also part of princess culture.

Growing up, it wasn’t uncommon to have conversations about which Disney princesses my friends and I identified with — Cinderella was a popular choice.

Cinderella’s transformation into a beautiful princess wearing an elegant dress is one that resonates with some women and girls in their own journeys of finding personal style and beauty.

Disney’s 1950 ‘Cinderella’

The first full-length Disney princess movie was “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” which was released in 1937 — although Snow White technically wasn’t the first Disney princess, per Smithsonian Magazine . Persephone from Greek mythology debuted in a short earlier that same year. Thirteen years after “Snow White,” Disney released “Cinderella.”

Adapted from Perrault’s fairy tale, the 1950 “Cinderella” introduced the iconic Cinderella character known today. She was voiced by Ilene Woods and the character was transformed in the film from wearing a tattered pink dress to the iconic silvery blue sweeping ball gown — complete with her hair in a bun, bangs and a matching headband — that she is known for today.

Actress portraying Cinderella at Disneyland California, July 17, 2012.

The iconic music, such as the song “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo” and “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes,” were on the soundtrack of this adaptation.

More than that, “Cinderella” helped make Disney financially successful. While “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” was successful, movies like “Fantasia” and “Pinocchio” did not make as much money, according to Decider , but “Cinderella” did much better. “The film was a hit, with critics and audiences. The film earned $8 million at the box office ($84.9 million adjusted), which is a bigger haul than the previous  three  Disney films  combined . In its initial box office run, ‘Cinderella’ became the third biggest hit of 1950 (after ‘King Solomon’s Mines’ and ‘All About Eve’).”

Now it’s a classic movie and frequents lists of the best Disney movies of all time . It’s also not the only cinematic Cinderella adaptation.

Contemporary adaptations of Cinderella

One of the most famous adaptations was Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella,” which came out in 1957. It was based on Perrault’s fairy tale and was broadcast on CBS as a musical written for television. The plot is familiar to those who have seen the 1950 “Cinderella,” but the music and dialogue come across as more modern.

This version spurred many more adaptations, both on the screen and on the stage. And filmmakers kept producing different versions of Cinderella. In another twist on the classic fairy tale, Blessington Film Productions released “Ella Enchanted,” which draws on the Cinderella story, but in a modern way. It’s based on Gail Levine’s book “Ella Enchanted” and stars Anne Hathaway as Ella.

“Ella Enchanted”

The film is more satirical than other Cinderella adaptations. There’s use of stock characters and additionally, as Hathaway said the film , “makes fun of itself for being a fairy tale.”

The music in the film includes songs like Elton John and Kiki Dee’s “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” with Hathaway and Jesse McCartney singing it. Rotten Tomatoes said the audience score is 57% and the critics score is 51%, which means it has mixed reviews.

The film had a budget of $31 million and only made $27 million at the box office, according to Box Office Mojo .

There were other adaptations like “A Cinderella Story,” starring Hilary Duff, or “Ever After” with Drew Barrymore. Then, Disney decided to remake the film “Cinderella” in the modern age.

Starring Lily James and Cate Blanchett, “Cinderella” took the audience’s breath away by the attention to detail in the costuming and set, as well as making Cinderella a more interesting character. Her backstory with her mother is revealed and she has a mantra — “Have courage and be kind.”

The film follows the 1950 version fairly closely, but there are some twists.

Lily James is Cinderella in Disney’s live-action “Cinderella,” directed by Kenneth Branagh.

For one, the prince, Kit, and Cinderella spend more time getting to know each other before they fall in love with one another. For another, Cinderella’s own character is developed further — the difficulty behind her struggles to remain good while she experiences so much cruelty is a central part of her character.

The love story between Kit and Cinderella also changes slightly.

Lily James is Cinderella and Richard Madden is the Prince in Disney’s live-action “Cinderella,” directed by Kenneth Branagh.

While earlier versions of the story show them falling in love abruptly without much time to get to know each other, that time is extended in the live-action version of the film. In the scene where Cinderella is going to try on the glass slipper, which Kit brings from house to house to all the women in the land, the two share an intimate moment where they recall an early conversation of theirs.

This moment works as a way to show their closeness and bond they cultivated. And like all fairy tales, the story ends happily ever after.

The future of Cinderella

Earlier this month, it was reported Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical “Bad Cinderella” will be closing on Broadway on June 4. The show is a feminist retelling of Cinderella. While there are some common elements like crystal slippers and the stepmother, Cinderella is goth and the music is more contemporary, according to Variety ,

The play had mixed reviews. Variety reported , “It’s been a rough go for ‘Bad Cinderella,’ which suffered from bad reviews and lackluster ticket sales. It was also snubbed at the Tonys, failing to receive a single nomination. By the time the curtain comes down for good, ‘Bad Cinderella’ will have played 33 preview performances and 85 regular performances.”

Cinderella fans won’t have to wait long to see another Cinderella appearance.

Of course, there’s always Halloween where girls still dress up as Cinderella. Princesses are regularly one of the most popular Halloween costumes, according to Rent.com , and Cinderella is a popular choice.

There’s also another show where Cinderella might make a cameo.

Disney+ is coming out with a “Descendants” sequel, previously entitled “The Pocket Watch” but now known as “Descendants: The Rise of the Red.” Production for this film was underway in February 2023 and the daughter of Cinderella and Prince Charming will be part of the story, per Deadline .

Cinderella will be part of the story, too, Variety confirmed. The singer Brandy will play Cinderella — she’s done it before in the 1997 “Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella.” There may be other Cinderella adaptations in the future and one thing’s for certain — she’ll live happily ever after.


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