There are many versions of the Cinderella story. Here I will discuss and compare the original Grimm Brothers’ version with the Disney version. First, I will give a general overview of the common story. Second, I will describe the main differences and similarities between the plots of the two versions. Third, I will discuss the different audiences they were intended for. Finally, I will explain the moral teachings of both versions.
The story of Cinderella is very well known, and at some point every little girl has dreamt of becoming a Cinderella. This is the story of a girl that gets mistreated by her stepmother and stepsisters, even though she’s loving, caring and kind. She lost her mother when she was little and is forced to become the servant of her own house. On a certain day there is a ball for the Prince and all the women of the kingdom are invited. Although she completes all her chores beforehand, her stepmother does not grant her permission to attend.
While her sisters and stepmother are at the ball her fairy godmother (a character which varies depending on the version) appears and helps her get dressed to attend the ball, but warns that she must return before midnight because after that the magic is gone. When she gets to the ball, the prince takes notice of Cinderella and they dance all night. When the clock strikes midnight she remembers the warning given to her and runs towards the exit. The Prince chases her but can not catch up to her.
However, he notices that Cinderella left one of her slippers behind. In order to find her, the Prince orders that all the women in the kingdom must try on the slipper, and that he will marry the one with a perfect fit. The story ends with Cinderella proving she was the owner of the lost slipper and becoming the Princess. Disney’s version of Cinderella is kind and soft. It is intended mainly for children. As all Disney stories, this one also includes a kind-hearted princess with a “lived happily ever after” ending.
It portrays a magical world where all dreams come true and where the powers of evil always lose their battles. This version presents evil in an innocent and soft manner, so that it does not crush children’s spirit. While in Grimm’s version the story is crueler, and we can’t know for sure if they lived happily ever after. At the end of this version the villains are punished by their actions, and there’s no fantastic world where there’s no real damage to the characters.
Disney’s version and the Grimm’s version have basically the same plot and the same main characters: Cinderella -a pious and humble girl who is mistreated by her evil stepmother, the stepmother - an evil lady that hates Cinderella, the stepsisters – who mistreat Cinderella and constantly give her chores, and the Prince - the hero of the story and the love interest of Cinderella. But despite their plot similarities, in Disney’s version there are several characters that do not exist in the Grimm’s version: the fairy godmother, Lucifer - a malicious cat, and Bruno - a loyal dog.
The fairy godmother grants Cinderella her wish to go to the ball; she gives her a carriage with white horses and a beautiful dress with glass slippers but warns her that by midnight the spell will be over. On the other hand, in the Grimm’s version the character that helps Cinderella get to the ball is a tree planted in the grave of Cinderella’s mother. Among the other contrasting characters we have Bruno, Cinderella’s pet dog. He shares some of her qualities, for example her immense loyalty.
I describe it as immense because despite all the mistreatments Cinderella receives, she never leaves. Lucifer is the stepmother’s pet, an evil cat that also reflects the traits of the stepmother. No matter how hard Cinderella tries to please the stepmother, she always finds a reason to punish her or give her more chores. The relationship of Cinderella and her stepmother is also reflected in the relationship between the cat and the dog. Finally, in the Grimm’s version there are two white pigeons that help Cinderella with the chores.
The Grimm version of Cinderella is more gruesome and grounded and perhaps more realistic than the Disney version. Today this tale is considered to be appropriate for a more mature audience that can handle a higher level of cruelty and violence. However it was also originally intended for children of the time (early 19th Century). The setting of this version is in a more realistic world without hiding the tragedies and abuses that occur on daily life.
Even though Cinderella still marries the Prince at the end, this version is more realistic and impacting. For instance, the stepsisters are willing to do whatever it takes to make the slipper fit, even if that implies cutting part of their foot to do so. By the end of the story they are left blind as part of their punishment. In conclusion we can see that even though both stories have the same plot they are meant for different audiences. Of course we have to take into account that they were written in different times.
Maybe Grimm’s version was made to scare the children, but I think some might have even been traumatized. In my opinion the Grimm’s version is a little too harsh for children. Disney does a good job telling the story of Cinderella. Children need to have hopes and dreams. They should believe that love overcomes everything, that good reigns over evil and that there are happily ever afters. Because the Grimm version shows the real world pretty much as it is, it can crush their innocent spirit.