Classic vs. Modern: Cinderella

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Cinderella is a classic fairytale most little girls look up to and dream about. They watch the story of Cinderella enduring hardship and cruelty then wind up with her Prince in the end. These young girls fantasize and wish for their life to be exactly like Cinderella’s story. Children most often don’t grow up reading this original fairytale from a book, they only watch the Walt Disney version and know of nothing else.

Comparing Classic Cinderella to Disney’s Cinderella Comparing Classic Cinderella to Disney’s Cinderella

So it is expected to think that they would grow up and never know that there was a different tale of Cinderella that had been told. Present day shows that this original fairytale is becoming more and more known though. So, it would be safe to say that the number of people who know of the original fairytale by their adulthood, is about to go up. The original fairytale of Cinderella, written by Charles Perrault, has many differences than Walt Disney’s version, but there are also many similarities.

Fairy Tale and Movie Plot Differences

One of the first noticeable differences in the beginning was that in the book Cinderella’s father does not die, and is indeed still alive throughout the story. Although he is not mentioned after the beginning, it is known that he is not dead. The book simply states, “Once upon a time there was a gentlemen whose second wife was the proudest and haughtiest woman imaginable,” then the father was not to be mentioned again unless it was by Cinderella herself (78). The movie production by Walt Disney altered this detail of the story tremendously. The father went from being nonexistent to becoming ill and dying.

This creates more of a dramatic setting in the very beginning. I believe that Walt Disney intentionally wanted that, to glorify Cinderella’s strength and will power. In the video production it is not known how Cinderella actually got her name, it is just assumed that she was born with her name. The writing by Perrault says differently though. Charles Perrault writes in the original story that, “When she had finished her work she would sit huddled in the chimney corner among the cinders, and so it was that she came to be known as Cinderpuss,” (78).

He also states that the younger of her stepsisters called her Cinderella, and that is how her name came to be. In the movie it appears that the step sisters are made out to be as evil as can be, whereas in the book it almost seems like they have a tiny bit of empathy towards Cinderella at times. The “beginning” of the story also differs in length. In the movie there is a longer timep between the start of the story and the ball than in the book. The book is based almost solely on what happens at the ball. Whereas the movie has more of a story to it and involves more characters than the book does.

The book also bases Cinderella’s story off of two different royal balls rather than just a single royal ball. The story in the book touches briefly on all of the work and chores that Cinderella is forced to do. This is the last time that Cinderella’s father is mentioned in the story, she says, “She dared not complain to her father because he was entirely ruled by his wife and would have only scolded her,” (78). Thus showing that her father is indeed alive and well, just not a big part in the fairytale. In the movie is it noticed right away how much the stepmother and sisters rely on Cinderella.

Cinderella and Her Stepsisters

From early in the morning to late at night Walt Disney made sure to make it known how hard she was working nonstop throughout the day. Perrault seems to make it known, but not anything more. The relationship between Cinderella and her stepsisters also differs in the original from Disney’s version. The book has multiple civil conversations between the sisters and Cinderella, and even has a part where they come to Cinderella for advice and out of the kindness Cinderella has, offers to do their hair for them. Perrault writes on page 81 in reference to the ball, “They called in Cinderella, who had excellent taste, and asked her advice.

She gave them the best in the world and offered to do their hair for them, an offer they were very glad to accept. ” In the movie, Disney portrays the sister’s characters as so stuck up that they would never take advice from a servant like Cinderella, and the thought of Cinderella advising them would completely repulse them. Walt Disney never made a scene in the movie where the stepsisters and Cinderella were civil with each other, it was always an argument between them or rude commands made by them towards Cinderella. Perrault doesn’t even make the stepsisters in the book important enough to make their names well know.

He only referred to them as the younger and elder of the two sisters besides one time where he called one of the sisters by name, Javotte. Another major difference in the book from the movie would be the characters. The book is more simplistic with the characters whereas the movie is made a bit more complex. Cinderella is made one with nature and all of nature’s animals in the Walt Disney production. She is a friend with almost all of the animals she comes into contact with in the film. The mice seem to play a bigger role in the movie than the stepsisters do. Cinderella has a give and take relationship with her animal friends.

She clothes, feeds, and nurtures them, while they also help her with whatever they can, like making her dress for example. Although she isn’t fond of Lucifer, she still sticks up for him in the movie when she scolds Bruno for dreaming about chasing cats. In the book, the only animals mentioned are the ones Cinderella’s fairy godmother sends her for. But they have no name and barely any part in the story; they are only used for Cinderella to get to the ball. When it comes to the royal ball part of the story, there are so many differences, yet it is also very similar.

The movie is based on a single ball that Cinderella gets to go to with the help of her fairy godmother and that is where she loses her glass slipper. It is all in one night that Cinderella’s fairy godmother turns her mice friends into horses, her horse into the coachmen, and Bruno into the footman to take her to the ball in her pumpkin carriage. The storyline in the book is a little different than that. Perrault writes it to where Cinderella’s fairy godmother simply summons her to go get random animals in traps, cages, or behind the water butt to make into her horses, coachmen, and footman.

And as for her pumpkin carriage, there was actually work that had to be done before turning it straight into the magnificent carriage. Perrault writes on page 83, “Her godmother scooped out the inside and when only the rind was left she touched it with her wand. ” Whereas in the movie all she did was wave her wand and the pumpkin danced to life. Cinderella’s elegant gown in the book was made only once and by her fairy godmother. Compared to in the movie where Cinderella’s animal friends made her first dress for her and her second dress came from her fairy godmother.

The Royal Balls

The last major difference in the royal balls would be that in the movie there is only one and in the book there are two that Cinderella asks her fairy godmother to go to, and the second one is where she loses her glass slipper rather than in the movie where she loses it at the first and only ball she attends. The character of the Prince also differs in the movie from in the original written fairytale. In the film the Prince was not informed of this mysterious and beautiful maiden who was actually Cinderella. He saw her on his own inside the palace and then decided to go up to her.

In the written version though, the Prince was instantly informed of her arrival and he himself was the one to escort her from her carriage. Perrault writes, “The king’s son was told that a great princess had arrived whom nobody knew, and he hurried to welcome her,” (87). After this point Cinderella’s character is somewhat different. For example in the book Cinderella goes up to her stepsisters and gives them fruit that the Prince gave her and shows them nothing but kindness, whereas in the movie Cinderella completely avoids them because she is afraid that they will recognize her.

When the Prince’s father talks about Cinderella, she is said to be the most attractive girl he has seen in a long time. The king is saying this to the queen in this part in the written story, but in the movie there is no queen that is even mentioned or spoken to. The ending of this fairytale only differs slightly in the two versions. They both end with similarities that include her leaving at the strike of midnight, her leaving her glass slipper, and the Prince yearning to know who she was and being determined to find out.

One small difference that was noticed was in the book when Cinderella was leaving the ball the second night. The written version says, “The guards at the palace gate were asked if they had seen a princess leaving, but they said the only person who had gone out was a little ragged girl who looked more like a peasant than a princess,” (93). In the movie Cinderella changed back as soon as she was arriving home, unlike the book where she changed back before she even made it out of the palace. The stepsister’s part in the fairytale also differs in the end.

In the movie they are still as rude and snobby as can be when they find out it was Cinderella who was the beauty at the ball. And in the book Perrault makes them out to throw away their pride and beg for forgiveness from Cinderella. He again displays Cinderella’s kind heart when he writes, “They threw themselves at her feet and begged her to forgive them for all their unkindness. Cinderella raised them up and kissed them, telling them she forgave them with all her heart and hoped they would always love her,” (97).

Even after they could not fit the tiny slipper onto their own feet, they were not bitter but only remorseful for what they had done. In the movie the stepmother thought she had won when she managed to break the glass slipper, but was also bitter and angry when she saw that Cinderella had the other one. Their characters were cut right then and there in movie. Compared to in the book, Cinderella showed her compassionate side and had her two stepsisters moved into the palace right away. The moral of the story of Cinderella remains the same through the book and the movie.

That is the one part that does not differ one bit. Disney decided to keep the moral of working hard to get where you want to be, and to never give up on your dreams. The two men just went about getting the moral across to the readers/viewers in different ways. I can see however that the overall tone of the story changed between the two men. Disney made is much more clear how much of a victim Cinderella really was in his movie by focusing more on her abusive mother and sisters, whereas Perrault made it known she had lots of chores but focused more on the happy parts of the story.

Disney would chose to make his movie this was so that the “fairytale ending” would be much more glamorous in the end. Disney was focused on what ways he can alter this story to make it sell, and Perrault was a man of simplicity and wrote the story only to create a feeling of happiness among his readers.

Works Cited

Perrault, Charles. Perrault’s Classic French Fairy Tales. “Cinderella or The Little Glass Slipper”. Meredith Press, 1967. 78-97. Disney Corp. Cinderella, 1965, Film.

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