Cinderella Summaries and World Wide Versions
One of the most well-known stories ever written, Cinderella and its universal tale of the human heart has appealed
to young and old for centuries. Variations on Cinderella's myth appear in folktales in almost every world culture: she's known
as "Yeh-Shen" in China,
"The Rough-Face Girl" to the Algonquin Indians of North America, "Chinye" and "Nyasha" to the people of Africa, "Tattercoats"
in England, and "Cenerentola" to Rossini.
While these versions vary in some degree, the general tale usually centers around a kind, but oppressed character persecuted
by the step-family. Typically, the father is either neglectful or absent; consequently, Cinderella must rely on a magical
guardian for assistance in achieving her deepest wish. Scholars disagree as to exactly how many versions of the popular tale
exist, with numbers ranging from 340 to over 3,000 versions, including picture books and musical interpretations. Although
the story doesn't have a singular author, there are several notable interpreters.
The earliest known version of Cinderella originated in China.
Recorded on paper by Tuan Ch'eng-shih in the middle of the ninth century, this version centers around "Yeh-Shen," a beautiful
young girl whose mother has died.
Raised by a spiteful stepmother, Yeh-Shen's only friend is a fish in the river near her home. After her stepmother
kills her fish, Yeh-Shen is told by an old man to gather the fish bones and make a wish. She wishes to attend the spring festival,
and she is granted a beautiful outfit complete with golden slippers. Yeh-Shen loses one of her slippers while running away
from her stepmother at the festival; however, a villager discovers it and it eventually finds its way to the King. The King
searches everywhere for the rightful owner of the slipper, and when Yeh-Shen puts the magic slipper on, her clothes are transformed
into the beautiful attire from her night at the festival and the King proposes to her. Although the couple lives happily ever
after, this version of the story punishes the stepmother and stepsister for their cruelty — they are stoned to death
by the villagers.
The Algonquin Indians of North America also created a Cinderella myth known as "The
The youngest sister is forced by her two older sisters to tend the village fire for hours, causing her hair and face
to burn from the cinder sparks. The powerful and magical chieftain is seeking a wife, but he is invisible. Although both sisters
claim to know what the chieftain looks like, he is visible only to Rough-Face Girl — because her heart is pure and honest,
she is able to see the his image in the forest and the sky. Dressing herself in a birch-bark dress and worn moccasins, she
walks to meet the chieftain. Her beauty is restored after she bathes in a lake, and she is soon married to the chieftain.
A West-African interpretation of Cinderella, the story of "Chinye," does not focus on marrying a prince.
Chinye is sent by her stepmother into the forest at night to get water. Animals protect Chinye from the dangers of
the forest. On her way home, Chinye meets an old woman who tells her to go into a hut where there are gourds on the floor,
and she is to take the tiniest, quietest gourd home and break it. Chinye does as she is told and when she breaks the gourd,
treasures spill out. In a jealous rage, her stepsister finds the house with the gourds and greedily selects the largest one.
She eagerly runs home to split her gourd open, but instead of treasures, the broken gourd unleashes a terrible storm. Chinye's
stepfamily loses everything. Because they are too proud to ask for help, the stepfamily moves. Chinye is left behind and chooses
to use her wealth to help her village.
Inspired by a folktale from Zimbabwe,
John Steptoe's book Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters tells the Cinderella story of "Nyasha" as told in African villages.
Mufaro loves both of his daughters, but Manyara is selfish and conceited while Nyasha is kind and sensitive. Nyasha
befriends a magical snake named Nyoka while working in her garden. Soon the King of Zimbabwe announces that he is seeking
a wife. Both Manyara and Nyasha make the difficult journey to his city. Along the way, the sisters encounter a hungry boy
and an old woman. Nyasha happily shares her food and is kind to all she encounters while Manyara refuses to share and is disrespectful.
When the sisters approach the King's room, Nyasha discovers that the king is her friend, the magical snake Nyoka. Nyoka asks
for Nyasha's hand in marriage and her selfish sister is forced to be her servant.
The British put a slight twist on the traditional Cinderella story with "Tattercoats." This particular version of
the Cinderella myth involves a grandfather instead of a stepmother, and a Prince who falls in love before the grand ball.
Tattercoats lives with her grandfather who doesn't care for her. He vows never to lay eyes on her because his favorite
daughter died while in labor with Tattercoats, so she is forced to beg for food and wear rags. Her only friend is a boy who
tends to the livestock. When the Prince announces that he will have a ball to choose a bride, Tattercoats and her friend walk
to the palace to watch the procession. Along the way, a wealthy gentleman encounters them, falls in love with Tattercoats,
and proposes to her. She refuses, but does agree to go to the palace at midnight in order that he may see her again. When
she arrives at the palace in her tattered clothing, everyone laughs at her. The wealthy gentleman reveals that he is the Prince
and selects her as his bride. Her clothes are transformed into beautiful garments and her friend becomes a squire.
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm retell a less forgiving version of the Cinderella tale with "Aschenputtel" or "Ash Girl."
The Grimm version, published in 1812, does not include a fairy godmother. Instead, the heroine plants a tree on her
mother's grave. Magical help appears to Cinderella in the form of a white dove. While some versions of the Cinderella tale
include a happier ending for the stepsisters, in the Grimm interpretation they become permanently blind after their eyes are
pecked out by birds from Cinderella's tree.
In 1697, French author Charles Perrault published Contes de ma Mere L'Oye (Tales of Mother Goose), a collection
of folktales he interpreted such as "Sleeping Beauty," "Little Red Riding Hood," and "Cinderella." It is this version which
was immortalized by Walt Disney, complete with the fairy godmother, pumpkin carriage, and the glass slipper.
In the original story, Cinderella's slipper had been made of fur; however, scholars think Perrault may have confused
vair (French for "fur") with the word verre (French for "glass"). Perrault recorded the story as it had been
told by storytellers, but added the magical elements for literary effect. Perrault was also slightly more humane than many
other interpreters — he ends his version of the tale with Cinderella forgiving her sisters, offering them lodging in
her palace, and finding them two men of the court to marry.
Rossini's Cinderella Librettist Jacopo Ferretti was inspired by Charles Perrault's rendition of the popular tale.
Knowing a fairy tale proved risky for an opera audience, Ferretti made several changes to Perrault's version, including the
absence of the fairy godmother and the "wicked" stepmother.
Ferretti wrote a preface to the opera, explaining the changes he made to Perrault's tale: "This ought not to be considered
as a crime of disrespect, but rather a necessity on the stage of the Teatro Valle, and an act of respect to the delicacy of
Romans' taste, which does not tolerate on the stage what is diverting in a tale told by the fireside."
Regardless of the interpretation, the Cinderella stories examine the test of the human spirit. "Yeh-Shen," "Chinye,"
"Nyasha," "Rough-Face Girl," and "Cenerentola" all successfully move from victim to heroine because of their goodness and
innocence. Jealousy and cruelty are repeatedly punished. Cinderella reminds us that compassion and sensitivity will be rewarded.
Boyden, Matthew. Opera: the Rough Guide. 1997.
"Cinderella: A Timeless Tale from Many Lands." Austin Lyric Opera.
"The Composition of LA CENERENTOLA." Dayton Opera.
"Gioacchino Rossini, a Very Brief Biography." from Opera World's website Opera Broadcast Booth. http://www.operaworld.com .
Heiner, Heidi Anne. "SurLaLune Annotated Fairy Tales: History of Cinderella." 2000. http://members.aol.com/surlalune/frytales.
Lucas, Jennisen. "If the Shoe Fits: An Annotated Bibliography on the Popular Tale of Cinderella."
Once there was a gentleman who married, for his second wife, the proudest and most haughty woman that
was ever seen. She had, by a former husband, two daughters of her own, who were, indeed, exactly like her in all things. He
had likewise, by another wife, a young daughter, but of unparalleled goodness and sweetness of temper, which she took from
her mother, who was the best creature in the world.
No sooner were the
ceremonies of the wedding over but the stepmother began to show herself in her true colors. She could not bear the good qualities
of this pretty girl, and the less because they made her own daughters appear the more odious. She employed her in the meanest
work of the house. She scoured the dishes, tables, etc., and cleaned madam's chamber, and those of misses, her daughters.
She slept in a sorry garret, on a wretched straw bed, while her sisters slept in fine rooms, with floors all inlaid, on beds
of the very newest fashion, and where they had looking glasses so large that they could see themselves at their full length
from head to foot.
The poor girl bore
it all patiently, and dared not tell her father, who would have scolded her; for his wife governed him entirely. When she
had done her work, she used to go to the chimney corner, and sit down there in the cinders and ashes, which caused her to
be called Cinderwench. Only the younger sister, who was not so rude and uncivil as the older one, called her Cinderella. However,
Cinderella, notwithstanding her coarse apparel, was a hundred times more beautiful than her sisters, although they were always
dressed very richly.
It happened that the
king's son gave a ball, and invited all persons of fashion to it. Our young misses were also invited, for they cut a very
grand figure among those of quality. They were mightily delighted at this invitation, and wonderfully busy in selecting the
gowns, petticoats, and hair dressing that would best become them. This was a new difficulty for Cinderella; for it was she
who ironed her sister's linen and pleated their ruffles. They talked all day long of nothing but how they should be dressed.
"For my part," said
the eldest, "I will wear my red velvet suit with French trimming."
"And I," said the youngest,
"shall have my usual petticoat; but then, to make amends for that, I will put on my gold-flowered cloak, and my diamond stomacher,
which is far from being the most ordinary one in the world."
They sent for the best
hairdresser they could get to make up their headpieces and adjust their hairdos, and they had their red brushes and patches
from Mademoiselle de la Poche.
They also consulted
Cinderella in all these matters, for she had excellent ideas, and her advice was always good. Indeed, she even offered her
services to fix their hair, which they very willingly accepted. As she was doing this, they said to her, "Cinderella, would
you not like to go to the ball?"
"Alas!" said she, "you
only jeer me; it is not for such as I am to go to such a place."
"You are quite right,"
they replied. "It would make the people laugh to see a Cinderwench at a ball."
Anyone but Cinderella
would have fixed their hair awry, but she was very good, and dressed them perfectly well. They were so excited that they hadn't
eaten a thing for almost two days. Then they broke more than a dozen laces trying to have themselves laced up tightly enough
to give them a fine slender shape. They were continually in front of their looking glass. At last the happy day came. They
went to court, and Cinderella followed them with her eyes as long as she could. When she lost sight of them, she started to
Her godmother, who
saw her all in tears, asked her what was the matter.
"I wish I could. I
wish I could." She was not able to speak the rest, being interrupted by her tears and sobbing.
This godmother of hers,
who was a fairy, said to her, "You wish that you could go to the ball; is it not so?"
"Yes," cried Cinderella,
with a great sigh.
"Well," said her godmother,
"be but a good girl, and I will contrive that you shall go." Then she took her into her chamber, and said to her, "Run into
the garden, and bring me a pumpkin."
Cinderella went immediately
to gather the finest she could get, and brought it to her godmother, not being able to imagine how this pumpkin could help
her go to the ball. Her godmother scooped out all the inside of it, leaving nothing but the rind. Having done this, she struck
the pumpkin with her wand, and it was instantly turned into a fine coach, gilded all over with gold.
She then went to look into her mousetrap, where she found six mice, all alive, and ordered
Cinderella to lift up a little the trapdoor. She gave each mouse, as it went out, a little tap with her wand, and the mouse
was that moment turned into a fine horse, which altogether made a very fine set of six horses of a beautiful mouse colored
Being at a loss for
a coachman, Cinderella said, "I will go and see if there is not a rat in the rat trap that we can turn into a coachman."
"You are right," replied
her godmother, "Go and look."
the trap to her, and in it there were three huge rats. The fairy chose the one which had the largest beard, touched him with
her wand, and turned him into a fat, jolly coachman, who had the smartest whiskers that eyes ever beheld.
After that, she said
to her, "Go again into the garden, and you will find six lizards behind the watering pot. Bring them to me."
She had no sooner done
so but her godmother turned them into six footmen, who skipped up immediately behind the coach, with their liveries all bedaubed
with gold and silver, and clung as close behind each other as if they had done nothing else their whole lives. The fairy then
said to Cinderella, "Well, you see here an equipage fit to go to the ball with; are you not pleased with it?"
"Oh, yes," she cried;
"but must I go in these nasty rags?"
Her godmother then
touched her with her wand, and, at the same instant, her clothes turned into cloth of gold and silver, all beset with jewels.
This done, she gave her a pair of glass slippers, the prettiest in the whole world. Being thus decked out, she got up into
her coach; but her godmother, above all things, commanded her not to stay past midnight, telling her, at the same time, that
if she stayed one moment longer, the coach would be a pumpkin again, her horses mice, her coachman a rat, her footmen lizards,
and that her clothes would become just as they were before.
She promised her godmother
to leave the ball before midnight; and then drove away, scarcely able to contain herself for joy. The king's son, who was
told that a great princess, whom nobody knew, had arrived, ran out to receive her. He gave her his hand as she alighted from
the coach, and led her into the hall, among all the company. There was immediately a profound silence. Everyone stopped dancing,
and the violins ceased to play, so entranced was everyone with the singular beauties of the unknown newcomer.
Nothing was then heard
but a confused noise of, "How beautiful she is! How beautiful she is!"
The king himself, old
as he was, could not help watching her, and telling the queen softly that it was a long time since he had seen so beautiful
and lovely a creature.
All the ladies were
busied in considering her clothes and headdress, hoping to have some made next day after the same pattern, provided they could
find such fine materials and as able hands to make them.
The king's son led
her to the most honorable seat, and afterwards took her out to dance with him. She danced so very gracefully that they all
more and more admired her. A fine meal was served up, but the young prince ate not a morsel, so intently was he busied in
gazing on her.
She went and sat down
by her sisters, showing them a thousand civilities, giving them part of the oranges and citrons which the prince had presented
her with, which very much surprised them, for they did not know her. While Cinderella was thus amusing her sisters, she heard
the clock strike eleven and three-quarters, whereupon she immediately made a courtesy to the company and hurried away as fast
as she could.
Arriving home, she
ran to seek out her godmother, and, after having thanked her, she said she could not but heartily wish she might go to the
ball the next day as well, because the king's son had invited her.
As she was eagerly
telling her godmother everything that had happened at the ball, her two sisters knocked at the door, which Cinderella ran
"You stayed such a
long time!" she cried, gaping, rubbing her eyes and stretching herself as if she had been sleeping; she had not, however,
had any manner of inclination to sleep while they were away from home.
"If you had been at
the ball," said one of her sisters, "you would not have been tired with it. The finest princess was there, the most beautiful
that mortal eyes have ever seen. She showed us a thousand civilities, and gave us oranges and citrons."
Cinderella seemed very
indifferent in the matter. Indeed, she asked them the name of that princess; but they told her they did not know it, and that
the king's son was very uneasy on her account and would give all the world to know who she was. At this Cinderella, smiling,
replied, "She must, then, be very beautiful indeed; how happy you have been! Could not I see her? Ah, dear Charlotte, do lend me your yellow dress which you wear every day."
"Yes, to be sure!" cried Charlotte;
"lend my clothes to such a dirty Cinderwench as you are! I should be such a fool."
well expected such an answer, and was very glad of the refusal; for she would have been sadly put to it, if her sister had
lent her what she asked for jestingly.
The next day the two
sisters were at the ball, and so was Cinderella, but dressed even more magnificently than before. The king's son was always
by her, and never ceased his compliments and kind speeches to her. All this was so far from being tiresome to her, and, indeed,
she quite forgot what her godmother had told her. She thought that it was no later than eleven when she counted the clock
striking twelve. She jumped up and fled, as nimble as a deer. The prince followed, but could not overtake her. She left behind
one of her glass slippers, which the prince picked up most carefully. She reached home, but quite out of breath, and in her
nasty old clothes, having nothing left of all her finery but one of the little slippers, the mate to the one that she had
The guards at the palace
gate were asked if they had not seen a princess go out. They replied that they had seen nobody leave but a young girl, very
shabbily dressed, and who had more the air of a poor country wench than a gentlewoman.
When the two sisters
returned from the ball Cinderella asked them if they had been well entertained, and if the fine lady had been there.
They told her, yes,
but that she hurried away immediately when it struck twelve, and with so much haste that she dropped one of her little glass
slippers, the prettiest in the world, which the king's son had picked up; that he had done nothing but look at her all the
time at the ball, and that most certainly he was very much in love with the beautiful person who owned the glass slipper.
What they said was
very true; for a few days later, the king's son had it proclaimed, by sound of trumpet, that he would marry her whose foot
this slipper would just fit. They began to try it on the princesses, then the duchesses and all the court, but in vain; it
was brought to the two sisters, who did all they possibly could to force their foot into the slipper, but they did not succeed.
Cinderella, who saw
all this, and knew that it was her slipper, said to them, laughing, "Let me see if it will not fit me."
Her sisters burst out
laughing, and began to banter with her. The gentleman who was sent to try the slipper looked earnestly at Cinderella, and,
finding her very handsome, said that it was only just that she should try as well, and that he had orders to let everyone
He had Cinderella sit
down, and, putting the slipper to her foot, he found that it went on very easily, fitting her as if it had been made of wax.
Her two sisters were greatly astonished, but then even more so, when Cinderella pulled out of her pocket the other slipper,
and put it on her other foot. Then in came her godmother and touched her wand to Cinderella's clothes, making them richer
and more magnificent than any of those she had worn before.
And now her two sisters
found her to be that fine, beautiful lady whom they had seen at the ball. They threw themselves at her feet to beg pardon
for all the ill treatment they had made her undergo. Cinderella took them up, and, as she embraced them, said that she forgave
them with all her heart, and wanted them always to love her.
She was taken to the
young prince, dressed as she was. He thought she was more charming than before, and, a few days after, married her. Cinderella,
who was no less good than beautiful, gave her two sisters lodgings in the palace, and that very same day matched them with
two great lords of the court.
Moral: Beauty in a woman is a rare treasure that
will always be admired. Graciousness, however, is priceless and of even greater value. This is what Cinderella's godmother
gave to her when she taught her to behave like a queen. Young women, in the winning of a heart, graciousness is more important
than a beautiful hairdo. It is a true gift of the fairies. Without it nothing is possible; with it, one can do anything.
Another moral: Without doubt it is a great advantage
to have intelligence, courage, good breeding, and common sense. These, and similar talents come only from heaven, and it is
good to have them. However, even these may fail to bring you success, without the blessing of a godfather or a godmother.
Andrew Lang, The Blue Fairy Book (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., ca. 1889), pp. 64-71.
source: Charles Perrault, Histoires ou contes du temps passé, avec des moralités: Contes de ma mère l'Oye (Paris, 1697).
to the table of contents.
(Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm)
Once upon a time there was a rich man who lived happily for a long time with his wife. Together they
had a single daughter. Then the woman became ill, and when she was lying on her deathbed, she called her daughter to her side,
and said, "Dear child, I must leave you now, but I will look down on you from heaven. Plant a little tree on my grave, and
when you want something, just shake the tree, and you shall get what you want. I will help you in time of need. Just remain
pious and good." Then she closed her eyes and died. The child cried, and planted a little tree on her mother's grave. She
did not need to carry any water to it, because her tears provided all the water that it needed.
The snow fell over
the mother's grave like a white cloth; then after the sun had retired from it a second time, and the little tree had become
green a second time, the man took another wife.
The stepmother already
had two daughters by her first husband. They were beautiful to look at, but in their hearts they were proud, arrogant, and
evil. After the wedding was over, the three moved into the man's house, and times grew very bad for his poor child.
"What is that useless
creature doing in the best room?" asked the stepmother. "Away to the kitchen with her! And if she wants to eat, then she must
earn it. She can be our maid."
Her stepsisters took
her dresses away from her and made her wear an old gray skirt. "That is good enough for you!" they said, making fun of her
and leading her into the kitchen. Then the poor child had to do the most difficult work. She had to get up before sunrise,
carry water, make the fire, cook, and wash. To add to her misery, her stepsisters ridiculed her and then scattered peas and
lentils into the ashes, and she had to spend the whole day sorting them out again. At night when she was tired, there was
no bed for her to sleep in, but she had to lie down next to the hearth in the ashes. Because she was always dirty with ashes
and dust, they gave her the name Cinderella.
The time came when
the king announced a ball. It was to last, in all splendor, for three days, and there his son, the prince, would choose a
wife for himself. The two proud sisters were invited. "Cinderella," they cried, "Come here. Comb our hair. Brush our shoes,
and tighten our laces. We are going to the prince's ball."
Cinderella did the
best that she could, but they rewarded her only with curses. When they were ready, they said with scorn, "Cinderella, wouldn't
you like to go to the ball?"
"Oh, yes. But how can
I go? I don't have a dress."
"No," said the oldest
one, "and we would be ashamed if you were to be seen there, and people learned that you are our sister. You belong in the
kitchen. Here is a basin of lentils. Sort the good ones from the bad ones, and if there is a single bad one in the lot when
we return, you can expect the worst."
With that, they left.
Cinderella stood and watched until she could no longer see them. Then she sadly went into the kitchen and spread the lentils
out over the hearth. There was a very, very large pile of them. "Oh," she said with a sigh. "I'll have to sit here sorting
lentils until midnight, and I can't close my eyes, no matter how much they hurt. If only my mother knew about this!"
She kneeled down in
the ashes next to the hearth and was about to begin her work when two white pigeons flew in through the window. They lit on
the hearth next to the lentils. Nodding their heads, they said, "Cinderella, do you want us to help you sort the lentils?"
"Yes," she answered:
The bad ones go into your crop,
The good ones
go into the pot.
And peck, peck, peck,
peck, they started at once, eating up the bad ones and leaving the good ones lying. In only a quarter of an hour there was
not a single bad lentil among the good ones, and she brushed them all into the pot.
Then the pigeons said
to her, "Cinderella, if you would like to see your sisters dancing with the prince, just climb up to the pigeon roost." She
followed them and climbed to the top rung of the ladder to the pigeon roost. There she could see into the hall, and she saw
her sisters dancing with the prince. Everything glistened by the glow of a thousand lights. After she had seen enough, she
climbed back down. With a heavy heart she lay down in the ashes and fell asleep.
The next morning the
two sisters came to the kitchen. They were angry when they saw that she had sorted the lentils, for they wanted to scold her.
Because they could not, they began telling her about the ball. They said, "Cinderella, it was so grand at the ball. The prince,
who is the best looking man in the whole world, escorted us, and he is going to choose one of us to be his wife."
"Yes," said Cinderella,
"I saw the glistening lights. It must have been magnificent."
"Now just how did you do that?"
asked the oldest one.
"By standing up there
on the pigeon roost."
When she heard this,
her envy drove her to have the pigeon roost torn down immediately.
Cinderella had to comb
their hair and get them ready again. The youngest sister, who had a little sympathy in her heart, said, "Cinderella, when
it gets dark you can go and look through the windows from the outside."
"No!" said the oldest
one. "That would only make her lazy. Here is a sackful of seeds. Sort the good ones from the bad ones, and do it well. If
tomorrow there are any bad ones in the lot, then I will dump the whole sackful into the ashes, and you will have to go without
eating until you have picked them all out again."
Cinderella sadly sat
down on the hearth and spread out the seeds. The pigeons flew in again, and said, "Cinderella, do you want us to help you
sort the seeds?"
"Yes," she answered:
The bad ones go into your crop,
The good ones
go into the pot.
Peck, peck, peck, peck,
it went as fast as if twelve hands were at work. When they were finished, the pigeons said, "Cinderella, would you like to
go dancing at the ball?"
"Oh, my goodness,"
she said, "how could I go in these dirty clothes?"
"Just go to the little
tree on your mother's grave, shake it, and wish yourself some beautiful clothes. But come back before midnight."
So Cinderella went
and shook the little tree, and said:
Shake yourself, shake yourself, little tree.
some nice clothing down to me!
She had scarcely spoken
these words when a splendid silver dress fell down before her. With it were pearls, silk stockings with silver decorations,
silver slippers, and everything else that she needed. Cinderella carried it all home. After she had washed herself and put
on the beautiful clothing, she was as beautiful as a rose washed in dew. She went to the front door, and there was a carriage
with six black horses all decorated with feathers, and servants dressed in blue and silver. They helped her into the carriage,
and away they galloped to the king's castle.
The prince saw the
carriage stop before the gate, and thought that a foreign princess was arriving. He himself walked down the steps, helped
Cinderella out, and escorted her into the hall. Many thousand lights shone upon her, and she was so beautiful that everyone
there was amazed. The sisters stood there, angry that someone was more beautiful than they were, but they had no idea that
it was Cinderella, who they thought was lying at home in the ashes. The prince danced with Cinderella and paid her every royal
honor. He thought to himself, "I am supposed to choose myself a bride. I will have no one but her."
However long she had
suffered in ashes and sorrow, Cinderella was now living in splendor and joy. As midnight approached, before the clock struck
twelve, she stood up, bowed, and said that she had to go, in spite of the prince's requests for her to stay. The prince escorted
her out. Her carriage stood there waiting for her. And she rode away just as splendidly as she had come.
Back at home, Cinderella returned to the tree
on her mother's grave, and said:
Shake yourself, shake yourself, little tree!
the clothing back from me!
The tree took back
the clothes. Cinderella put on her old ash-dress again, went home, dirtied her face, and lay down in the ashes to sleep.
The next morning the
two sisters came in looking out of sorts, and without saying a word. Cinderella said, "Did you have a good time yesterday
"No. A princess was
there who danced with the prince almost the whole time, but no one knew who she was nor where she came from."
"Was she the one in the splendid
carriage drawn by six black horses?" asked Cinderella.
"How did you know that?"
"I was standing in
the front door when she rode by the house."
"In the future do not
leave your work," said the oldest one, giving Cinderella an evil look. "What were you doing, standing in the front door?"
Cinderella had to get
her sisters ready a third time. Her reward was a basin filled with peas, which she was supposed to sort. "And do not dare
to leave your work," shouted the oldest one, as she was leaving.
"If only my pigeons will come again," and her heart beat a little faster. The pigeons did come, just as they had the evening
before, and said, "Cinderella, would you like us to help you sort the peas."
"Yes," she said:
The bad ones go into your crop,
The good ones
go into the pot.
Once again the pigeons
picked out the bad ones, and soon they were finished. Then they said, "Cinderella, shake the little tree, and it will throw
down even more beautiful clothes. Go to the ball, but be careful to come back before midnight." Cinderella went and said:
Shake yourself, shake yourself, little tree.
some nice clothing down to me!
Then a dress fell down
that was even more magnificent and more splendid than the other one, made entirely of gold and precious stones. With it were
stockings decorated with gold, and slippers made of gold. Cinderella put them on, and she glistened like the sun at midday.
A carriage with six white horses pulled up at the door. The horses had tall white plumes on their heads, and the servants
were dressed in red and gold.
When Cinderella arrived,
the prince was waiting for her at the stairway. He escorted her into the hall. If everyone had been astounded at her beauty
yesterday, today they were even more astounded. The sisters stood in the corner, pale with envy. If they had known that this
was Cinderella, who they thought was at home lying in the ashes, they would have died of jealousy.
The prince wanted to
know who the foreign princess was, where she was from, and where she was going. He placed his people in the street to keep
watch. To prevent her from running away so fast, he had the stairway covered with pitch. Cinderella danced with the prince
again and again. Filled with joy, she did not think about midnight. Suddenly, in the middle of a dance, she heard the clock
strike. She suddenly remembered what the pigeons had warned her. Frightened, she rushed to the door and ran down the stairs.
Because they were covered with pitch, one of her golden slippers stuck fast, and in her fear she did not think to pick it
up. She reached the last step just as the clock struck twelve. The carriage and the horses disappeared, and Cinderella was
left standing there in the dark street dressed in her ash-clothes.
The prince had rushed
after her. He found the golden slipper on the stairway, pulled it loose, and picked it up. But by the time he arrived below,
she had disappeared. The people whom he had ordered to keep watch came and said that they had seen nothing.
Cinderella was glad
that it had not been worse. She returned home, lit her simple oil lamp, hung it in the chimney, and lay down in the ashes.
Before long the two sisters returned, and called out, "Cinderella, get up and light the way for us."
Cinderella yawned and
acted as though she had been asleep. While lighting their way, she heard one of them say, "God knows who the cursed princess
is. I wish that she were lying beneath the earth! The prince danced only with her, and after she left, he did not want to
stay any longer, and the whole party came to an end."
"It was as though they
suddenly blew out all the lights," said the other one. Cinderella knew exactly who the foreign princess was, but she did not
say a word.
Now the prince decided
that since nothing else had succeeded, he would let the slipper help him find his bride. He had it proclaimed that he would
marry the person whose foot fit the golden slipper. But it was too small for everyone. Indeed, some could not have gotten
their foot inside, if it had been twice as large. Finally it came time for the two sisters to try on the slipper. They were
happy, for they had small, beautiful feet, and each one believed that she could not fail. "If only the prince would come here
sooner!" they thought.
"Listen," said the mother secretly.
"Take this knife, and if the slipper is too tight, just cut off part of your foot. It will hurt a little, but what harm is
that? The pain will soon pass, and then one of you will be queen." Then the oldest one went to her bedroom and tried on the
slipper. The front of her foot went in, but her heel was too large, so she took the knife and cut part of it off, so she could
force her foot into the slipper. Then she went out to the prince, and when he saw that she was wearing the slipper, he said
that she was to be his bride. He escorted her to his carriage and was going to drive away with her. When he arrived at the
gate, the two pigeons were perched above, and they called out:
Rook di goo, rook di goo!
There's blood in
The shoe is too tight,
This bride is not right!
The prince bent over
and looked at the slipper. Blood was streaming from it. He saw that he had been deceived, and he took the false bride back.
The mother then said
to her second daughter, "Take the slipper, and if it is too short for you, then cut off your toes." So she took the slipper
into her bedroom, and because her foot was too long, she bit her teeth together, and cut off a large part of her toes, then
quickly pulled on the slipper. When she stepped out wearing it, the prince thought that she was the right one, and wanted
to ride away with her. But when they came to the gate, the pigeons again called out:
Rook di goo, rook di goo!
There's blood in
The shoe is too tight,
This bride is not right!
The prince looked down
and saw that her white stockings were stained red, and that blood and had come up high on them. The prince took her back to
her mother and said, "She is not the right bride either. Is there not another daughter here in this house?"
"No," said the mother.
"There is only a dirty cinder girl here. She is sitting down there in the ashes. The slipper would never fit her." She did
not want to call her, but the prince insisted. So they called Cinderella, and when she heard that the prince was there, she
quickly washed her hands and face. She stepped into the best room and bowed. The prince handed her the golden slipper, and
said, "Try it on. If it fits you, you shall be my wife." She pulled the heavy shoe from her left foot, then put her foot into
the slipper, pushing ever so slightly. It fit as if it had been poured over her foot. As she straightened herself up, she
looked into the prince's face, and he recognized her as the beautiful princess. He cried out, "This is the right bride." The
stepmother and the two proud sisters turned pale with horror. The prince escorted Cinderella away. He helped her into his
carriage, and as they rode through the gate, the pigeons called out:
Rook di goo, rook di goo!
No blood's in the
The shoe's not too tight,
This bride is right!
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Kinder- und Hausmärchen, 1st ed. (Berlin,
1812), v. 1, no. 21. Translated by D. L. Ashliman. Copyright 1998.
the edition of 1819 (and all subsequent editions) the stepsisters' punishment is more severe: The pigeons attack them and
peck out their eyes, leaving them blind for life.
to the last version (1857) of this tale published by the Grimm brothers: Aschenputtle (in German). This is a text from Projekt Gutenberg-DE.
to an English translation of the last version (1857) of Cinderella.
to the Grimm Brothers Home Page.
…And Then the Prince Knelt Down and Tried to Put the Glass Slipper on Cinderella’s
Foot by Judith Viorst
I really didn’t notice that he had a funny nose.
And he certainly looked better all dressed up in fancy clothes.
He’s not nearly as attractive as he seemed the other night.
So I think I’ll just pretend that this glass slipper feels too tight.
In Search of Cinderella by Shel Silverstein
From dusk to dawn
From town to town,
Without a single clue,
I seek the tender, slender foot
To fit this crystal shoe.
From dusk to dawn,
I try it on
Each damsel that I meet.
And I still love her so, but oh,I’ve started hating feet.