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The genteel Cinderella of whom we are the most familiar has been embraced since 1697. Hers is the epitome of the 'rags-to-riches' girl who meets Prince Charming and lives happily ever after story. This Cinderella is not the first or only Cinderella with a story. There are many Cinderellas each with her own unique tale but all carry a theme of hardship on the part of the heroine enveloped in a veil of magic.
Our Cinderella narrative has profoundly impacted child and adult alike since Walt Disney's animated feature was released to American society on February 15, 1950. Disney's version is closest to Charles Perrault’s French version of the fairy tale, which tells the story of a young girl whose father dies, leaving her at the mercy of her oppressive stepmother and two unsympathetic stepsisters.
The earliest recorded version of a Cinderella narrative dates as far back as the 850 AD transcribed in China by Tuan Ch'eng Shih. In 1634, the tale makes it first written appearance in Europe in an Italian version entitled, "La Gatta Cenerentola" or ‘The Cat Cinderella’ by Giambattista Basile's. Cinderella's tale is universal being known around the world within diverse cultures of many languages.
The Cinderella narrative has a long and profoundly rich history which I believe to be as, if not more, enchanting and engaging as Disney's animated characters and seductive fantasy worlds. As adults we should be encouraging our children to understand that stories of all kinds have many origins and numerous meanings. What better way than to expose them to the myriad versions of their favorite tale. Go on, you can begin today.
Source: The Origins of the 'Cinderella' Story
only daughter. The girl had a governess for whom she
cared greatly and the governess felt equal affection for her.
Eventually, the girl’s father remarried, and took a wife
who had an evil temperament. She treated the charming
daughter with such coldness and contempt that the young
girl would complain to her governess, “O God, would that
thou hath been my darling mother, thou who lovest me
and art always caressing me.”