Comparative Analysis Of Three Different Renditions Of Cinderella
The classic tale of Cinderella is one that has been retold over countless centuries having numerous renditions designed to adapt to a certain cultural society at a given time. Due to so many renditions and being retold so many times, certain versions are completely different while embodying the same message. However, the classic story of Cinderella revolves around a beautiful young lady who loses her mother and upon her father’s new marriage, faces new struggles. Some of these struggles include mistreatment and harassment through her new stepmother and stepsisters as she is treated like the ugly duckling. Cinderella finds herself being ordered around to perform countless chores which seemingly never stopped. However, through her persistence and desire to want a better life, she along with the help of her fairy godmother are able to find Cinderella the love of her life and ultimately a happily ever after ending. Due to the countless different iterations of this classic story, it is evident that due to certain cultures and their beliefs, certain conditions such as actions made, magical assistance, and even origin stories for the protagonist are altered. We will be carefully looking at three different renditions of Cinderella to gauge their agency, assistance, and culture that seems to take place.
In the classic story “Cinderella”, the protagonist does almost nothing to alter her certain fate, but more so her fate is altered due to the persistence of the prince who went out of his way to find the rightful owner of the glass slipper. Upon finding the owner of the slipper, the two end up falling in love and we come to the happily ever after ending. However, in “Yeh-hsien” a Chinese rendition of Cinderella, the protagonist takes the form as Yeh Hsein. The actions by both characters are remotely similar as they did not actively try to change their own fate, but rather let others alter it. In Yeh Hsien, similarly like Cinderella, the protagonist lost her shoe and the king who went by the name of T’o-han looked all over for the owner, but unlike the origin story, Yeh-Hsien put on her best attire and tried to look as good as possible for the king, As the story states, after the encounter, Yeh-Hsein “now began to render service to the king”. On the other hand, unlike both Cinderella and Yeh-Hsein, the story of Donkeyskin shows a different approach made by the protagonist. The heroine of Donkeyskin puts matters into her own hands and alter her seemingly certain fate. This is clearly seen in the scene where the heroine places a ring in a cake that she had baked for the prince. The author of the story known as Perrault had even stated that it was a act to get the prince’s attention as seen in this quote, “…she put it in there with a purpose. I have no doubts, and I give you my word that she was confident that her young admirer would accept the ring with gratitude”. Similarly like in Donkeyskin, in the story “Vasilisa the Fair” the protagonist is clearly seen to making an active effort to change her fate. Vasilina possesses talents in producing fine linen and she unknowingly uses this talent to her advantage to change her future. One day, the protagonist gives an old lady who housed her some linen and states, “‘Granny, sell this linen and keep the money for yourself’”. The Granny presents this linen in front of the tsar who is astonished by the quality of the work. It turns out that Vasilisa was the only one who could produce this type of linen which she was well aware of. Eventually, Vasilisa came face to face with the tsar and the fell in love with each other.
In the original story of Cinderella, the protagonist seemingly received magical assistance from the one and only fairy godmother. However, in Yeh-Hsein, rather than a fairy godmother, the void is filled with someone described as “a man with his hair loose over his shoulders and coarse hair”. The secretive man convincingly acts as a guardian spirit who watches over Yeh-hsein in her development. This man tells her where to find the beloved fish and told her if she prayed to the bones, she would be able to grant whatever wish she wanted to reality. In Donkeyskin, the protagonist receives assistance also from her fairy godmother. Her fairy godmother is seemingly described to be “an extraordinary fairy, unrivaled in her art”. The protagonist’s fairy godmother is seen to constantly help her keep her family together and eventually allows her to escape her troubles. In Vasilisa the Fair, it is evident that Vasilisa gets help from two alternate sources. One of the sources is seen to be her magical doll and the other source is her mother and Baba Yaga who was known as the old witch who lived in the forest. The magical doll pretty much helped Vasilisa throughout her entire story with her daily struggles such as chores. Towards the end of the story, the doll had helped her create the loom which produced the one of kind linen that was presented to the tsar. Baba Yaga had helped with the demise of Vasilisa’s step-family.
As all three stories are simply renditions told to cater to a certain culture, they are going to be different. These alterations reflect upon the culture and beliefs of whom the story is catered to. Yeh-Hsein has annotation in the book referencing her as “The Chinese Cinderella Story”. Throughout the story, there are multiple references only those who were knowledgeable about Chinese culture would pick up on. For example the reference to fish bones which represent good luck and fortune and the mysterious man who had helped Yeh-hsein. Asian culture typically does not believe in fairy godparents hence the reason the role was swapped by the mysterious man. The author had stated that the king used his wish from the fish bones to grant “treasures and jade without limit”. In Chinese and other cultures, jade is a highly valuable gemstone that people tend to gravitate towards. In Donkeyskin, this story evidently originated from Europe clearly seen by the references to the season of Carnival. The constant mentioning of nobility, baronesses, and countesses highlights the culture behind this rendition of Cinderella. Lastly, in Vasilisa the Fair, Russian culture is evident throughout the story. The mentions of beverages exclusive to Russia, the Tsar who is the Russian emperor, and Baba Yaga which is a Russian name help convince the reader about the cultural adaptation the story had to make to cater to the Russian audience.
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