Cinderella, as told by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm in Household Tales, is a tale most of us are familiar with. Most know the version of the tale as told in the Disney classic animated film. However, when told by the Grimm brothers it is a bit more elaborate and quite unlike the Disney version. Yet it is a tale I can relate to, as I’m sure many others can as well.
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I find the moral of the story the authors were trying to get across is that good will triumph evil, even in what seems to be the most impossible of situations. It all began with Cinderella suffering the death of her mother, who was quickly replace by an evil stepmother and her two daughters. They tell her cruel things and force her to do the household cleaning as “ He who wants to eat bread must earn it; out with the kitchen-wench.” With that one sentence they have explicitly made it clear they feel she is beneath them and if she wants to eat she will earn her keep and meals. They take all of her possessions and give her, mock her, and even taunt her. She is forced to work in kitchen from the morning to nighttime, force her to sleep in the ashes by the fireplace. She has been reduced to nothing. She has nothing and is made to feel as though she is nothing, even to her father.
The ways I can relate to her aren’t the exact same circumstances, but similar nonetheless. At one point I was in a relationship that was very abusive. I was to do all the cooking, all the cleaning, and under no circumstance was I allowed to say a negative word and I was never to go anywhere alone. I was called Cinderella as well as Tina; in reference to Tina Turner. Everything I had owned no longer belonged to me, if I wanted to eat than I needed to cook and clean the house or go without. Cinderella throughout this tale never says an ill word to her stepmother or stepsisters. She perseveres through the impossible tasks her stepmother gives her, simply to go to the King’s ball. Although she was forbidden to go, she found a way and went. She went not just once or twice, but three times. Each time she went looking more beautiful than the time before and each time. Each time the Prince wanted to escort her home, to see where his true love lived and each time she escaped him at the last moment. The last time she leaves behind a golden shoe on the staircase the Prince had covered with pitch.
When the Prince brings the shoe around looking for his true bride, as only the woman whose foot fits into the slipper can be his true bride, the evil stepsisters both cut off a part of their foot in an attempt to fool the Prince and in the end neither sister was truly his bride. When passing birds, which had helped Cinderella with the tasks her stepmother had given her to prevent her from going to the ball and also presented her with the wardrobe each night she went to the ball, also informed the prince each time he passed with one of the step-sisters that they had a bloody foot in the slipper and each time he took them back. At last he asks the stepmother if she has any other daughter and she says no, but the father mentions Cinderella and even refers to her as “ a little stunted kitchen-wench my late wife left behind her, but she cannot possibly be the bride.”
The prince insists she try on the shoe, which fit of course. He takes her with him and afterward the sisters were each punished for the evil and wickednees with blindness as long as they lived by pigeons pecking out their eyes. This all rings a bell for me as well. When I had finally put my abuser behind bars and had started living a much better life without him, the very family we’d been living with that called me Cinderella and mocked me, turned their backs and locked the doors while my boyfriend what he did, expected me to clean their house, expected me to cook their meals, were now expecting my help and graciousness when I had a new nice paying job. Good triumphs evil, I got out, got away, and made a life for myself. Those who had done wrong by me suffered the consequences. My partner went to prison for his wrongs and his family lost their home because I refused to help them. Cinderella did it, so can I.