“Cinder-Ella” A Critical Comparative Analysis on Cinderella & Ella Enchanted

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Almost every young woman hears the story of Cinderella growing up and envisions a fairy godmother rescuing her from the unfair chores heaped upon her head. Wicked stepmothers and stepsisters are not required for this fantasy. Gail Carson Levine reinvented the Disney fairy tale in Ella Enchanted,” which was almost guaranteed to be a hit. What sets it apart is that Levine takes Ella out of the victim status (well, mostly) and sends her off to save the prince instead of the other way around.

Similarly, in the movie Happily Never After,” the writers saw the need to update the fairy tale and move away from the stereotype that the princess needs rescuing. The most significant difference in the story is that Ella becomes a real person, whereas in traditional tales, she is a caricature of a needy child who is constantly rescued by her animal friends (who make her first dress), her fairy godmother, and ultimately, the prince himself.

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In the traditional Disney version of Cinderella, she is treated as a slave in her own home by her stepmother and stepsisters. They give her endless chores to do because they can no longer afford servants. Despite being the loveliest sister, her stepmother wants to climb the social ladder through her daughters and excludes Cinderella. The original movie emphasizes Cinderella’s physical beauty and kindness, which was typical of that era. She is also portrayed as a competent homemaker who is kind to animals.

However, in modern retellings such as Ella Enchanted,” Ella is depicted as more than just physically beautiful and kind-hearted; she is also intelligent and capable. In this story, Ella has been cursed with the need to follow orders literally. She tries to hide this from those who would use it against her but eventually, her wicked stepmother discovers it and uses it against Ella’s chances with the prince.

Meanwhile, the Prince finds himself in dire circumstances while people plot to steal his throne.

The key difference in the story is the modern take on Ella’s personality. Instead of being a poor waif requiring someone to save her, in the movie, Ella is portrayed as a strong and funny young woman who wins the prince not based on her looks but on her drive and desire to save him from himself and his enemies. Levine’s modern take worked so well that others adopted it, stealing her modernized version of Ella for other retellings of classic fairy tales.

In 2007, when Sarah Michelle Gellar reprised Anne Hathaway’s role as Ella, she obviously took Levine’s version of the character instead of Disney’s. The film called Happily Never After” retells classic fairy tales from the concept of what if the bad guys won. In the end, it is Levine’s kick-butt version of Ella that defeats the evil enchantress and saves Fairyland for good guys. In effect, Levine redefined fairy tales.

One of the complaints many women have had about fairy tales is that they imply, by their very nature, that women need rescuing. However, by redefining Ella and making her a strong heroine, Levine changes the impact of the story and makes it modern and interesting. She updates the world around Ella to create a fun tale for young girls to watch with enjoyable music and dancing without becoming preachy or archaic. The updates to the story include even the humor of Ella’s literal interpretation of her orders which continues to improve the story and make it more fun for viewers. Although the prince needs Ella’s help, he is not depicted as a complete idiot either; therefore, role reversal does not end up demeaning boys. The important aspect of Levine’s work and movie interpretation is that it modernizes Ella while making her stronger on her own without resorting to making other people weak.

Consequently, both stories aim to captivate readers or viewers in the most sentimental sense by treating the ‘feminine’ characters as belonging to the ‘lowest’ category on the pyramid of society, or as ‘discriminated ones’. Cinderella and Ella were both treated poorly by their families, creating a different twist in the protagonist’s arena and giving audiences a surprise later in the story. Many critics may rate the author as sadistic and cruel for being so mean to such characters; however, this explicit evidence serves both stories well because they are loved by many. Furthermore, although both stories share a scene of agony, hope, and love, it is still a fact that Cinderella marks top chart despite Ella’s worse situation. It can be assumed that originality” and “pioneerism” are still attractive concepts to contemporary society. However, given global competition triggering artists to produce more or better works for instance; Ella’s enchanting finesse has been covered with mainstream variations. Additionally, Cinderella’s formidable sense of character and talented state of being have not been overpowered by Ella’s charm since time has already created multifarious characters which are “Cinderella-like.” The public is already fed up with too many heartbreaker icons like her. Therefore it is inevitable for both characters to be compared but determining who dominates in the eyes of masses remains an undying deliberation. Apparently other “Cinderella stories,” such as Ever After and The Princess Test also denote critical analysis and comparison while capturing total hysteria from public hearts.

Works Cited.

Anderson, Ken, and Homer Brightman wrote the screenplay for Cinderella,” which was produced by Disney Studios in 1950.

Langdale, Douglas, and Robert Moreland wrote an article titled Happily Never After,” which was published in the Berlin Animation Film in January 2007.

Levine, Gail Carson and Laurie Craig. Ella Enchanted.” Miramax Films, 2005.

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“Cinder-Ella” A Critical Comparative Analysis on Cinderella & Ella Enchanted. (2016, Sep 04). Retrieved from


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