We all know the story of Cinderella. My first watch had a picture of Cinderella on its face and came packaged in a “glass’ slipper. But do we really know much about the story of Cinderella? There are folklorists who have made a life career of collecting and studying Cinderella stories. Do you know that there might be 345 variants of the story? Or better yet, over 700 variants or versions? (Scholars use both terms variants and versions and also divide stories into types.) Do you know that there is even a male version of Cinderella? My first source of information on Cinderella stories was Cinderella: a Casebook, edited by Alan Dundes, 1982 & 1988. (You can find this in the Osterlin library.) Now there are also fantastic sources of stories and analyses online.
Motifs: (plot strands) common to Cinderella stories. Watch for these as you read a variety of Cinderella stories. A. A kind, but the persecuted heroine is ill-treated by…: B. Her father is either absent or neglectful or dangerous. C. A magical guardian/supernatural creature/helpful animal helps her triumph over her persecutors and receive her fondest wish by the end of the tale. D. She meets the prince/king.
E. An epiphany (revelation) sparked by an article of clothing (usually a shoe) causes the heroine to be recognized for her true worth.
F. She marries the prince/king. Four Cinderella variants/originals from the European oral tradition These are all considered “Cinderella” stories because they have the common motifs listed above relating to the persecuted heroine storyline.
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