Cinderella or The Little Glass Slipper, is a folk tale, from the oral tales, about unjust oppression and a fantastic reward to the down trodden.
These Versions of Cinderella from around the world, each with unique elements that reflect the cultural context in which they were created:
These are just a few examples of the many diverse versions of Cinderella story found throughout the world. Each version reflects its own cultural and historical context, but they all share the common themes of overcoming adversity and achieving a better life.
The story's title and it's main character's name are different in other languages, in English-language folklore Cinderella is by far the most popular name for this type of story.
"Woman gives birth to a gourd." - This is the opening to the description of an Italian variant of the Cinderella folk tale — or, really, a relative of one of its relatives — taken from a book called Cinderella; three hundred and forty-five variants of Cinderella, Catskin, and Cap o'Rushes, abstracted and tabulated, with a discussion of mediaeval analogues, and notes, written by Marian Roalfe Cox and published in 1893. In this version of the story, the heroine is born inside a gourd and accidentally abandoned in the forest by it's mother.
Our heroine is discovered by a prince, who finds the talking gourd and takes it home. Later she gets out and becomes a servant named Zucchettina.
. The prince keeps her at the palace but mistreats her terribly, even beating her and kicking her to prevent her from attending his ball, but she gets there anyway without his knowing it's her . They meet and he gives her gifts and so on. Later, when she prepares his breakfast, she slips into his breakfast one of the gifts he gave her at the ball. When he finds the gift, he recognizes that she is his beloved.
(It could be worse to our modern ears: One of the Cinderella variant entries is called "Little Saddleslut.")
That's not the strangest variant in the book, and it is certainly not the darkest. One begins with Cinderella, her two older sisters and their mother agreeing to a whimsical bet: First one to drop her spinning spool will be eaten by the others. When Mom proves clumsy, the sisters indeed eat her. (A deal's a deal?) Cinderella decides not to eat her mother, but to wait until the killing and eating is over, then bury her mother's bones. You know, out of respect. Fortunately, her mother's bones turn into coins and beautiful magic dresses. It's no fairy godmother, but you don't look your mother's gift bones in the ... mouth, I suppose.
There's a Vietnamese variant called Kajong And Haloek in which the evil foster mother of the Cinderella figure, Kajong, is tricked into eating the flesh of her own dead daughter (who boiled herself alive trying to be as beautiful as Kajong) — punishment for them both.
And here is a direct quote from Cox's book, summarizing a variant called Gold-dice: "King goes to war, leaving three daughters in mound with victuals for seven years. Father slain; princesses forgotten. Dog and cat eaten; elder sisters die. Heroine eats mouse; digs way out."
There's very little that's common to all the versions of Cinderella, but in general, you have a mistreated young woman, forced to do dirty menial work. She is unloved by her family. By some magical event, She meets an important man but disappears. The man must find her and be able to recognize her even if she is covered in dirt.
The most famous of all the versions of Cinderella was Cendrillon, which was written in France by Charles Perrault in 1697. His additions to the story, including the pumpkin, the fairy-godmother and the introduction of a "glass" slipper. He removed some of the violence and made it more fit for children. Disney's Cinderella was one of the most popular Cinderella versions taken from this authors work.