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Once upon a time

What is a fairy tale?

A fairy tale is a story featuring folkloric characters such as fairies, goblins, elves, trolls, giants, and others. The fairy tale is a sub-class of the folktale. These stories often involve royalty, and modern versions usually have a happy ending.

According to Angela Carter, not all fairy tales include fairies, but the common elements to these are the presence of magic and talking animals.

According to Bruno Bettelheim:

Almost none of the main characters appearing in the existent fairy tales have a name. They are referred to by their nicknames. Most of the fairy tales begin with once upon a time in a far away kingdom leaving the reader without a geographical or historical location of the story.

What is their origin?

Fairy tales are originated in oral tradition; they have been narrated and handed down orally from generation to generation until the invention of print, and the growth of literacy in societies.

Although there are many alleged authors of fairy tales, most of the writers cited were merely recording in print the most popular oral versions circulating amongst narrators at the time.

At their onset, in preliterate societies, fairy tales were addressed to an adult public, and had tragic and cruel contents with sad endings meaning to serve as warnings about lifes dangers. Fairy Tales were used to show people how a bad behavior is punished. Later in the nineteenth and twentieth century, fairy tales were altered (their violence removed), so they could be read to children. During this period, fairy tales presented moral lessons and happy endings, in which the enemy was usually punished, and good conquered evil.

In the nineteenth Century, thete where two brothers named Jacob and William Grimm who began collecting folktales from a German woman named Zwehr der Kassel (the shepherdess). They recorded these folktales, and in 1812 they published the first volume of the book Children's and Household Tales that included the collected fairy tales. This book contained over 210 stories such as: Cinderella, the Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, Rumpelstiltskin, Hansel and Gretel, Frog King, and more. Seven years later, in 1819, they published a second volume of this book.

Grimms tales became known in America, when Walt Disney in 1937 adapted Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, into a film.


Cinderella is one of the best known fairy tales around the world.

Over 15,000 different versions can be found all over the world in various countries such as France , Germany , Norway , The Philippines , Japan , China , Ireland , Scotland, Italy , Georgia, Serbia , Denmark , Kashmir, Zimbabwe , Vietnam , Haiti ,

The fact that the versions were born in different cultures with different traditions, customs and availability of resources and materials, makes magical and symbolic elements vary from version to version.

The three chosen versions had an onset in different times, cultures, and geographical and historical locations. As a result, they express the traditions, life styles, and aesthetic values of the culture where they developed.

These cultural elements can be seen in the evolution of Cinderellas helper.

In the Egyptian version, a falcon picks up one of Cinderellas slipper and brings it to the Pharaohs palace.

In the German version it is a white dove and a hazel tree which provide Cinderella with her dress and slippers for the ball.

The Disney version presents a fairy godmother as her magical helper.


The oldest known version of Cinderella comes from China. It was written down by Tuan Ch'eng-shih in the middle of the ninth century B.C. (850-60 Common Era in the current Chinese calendar). and the hero of the story is a young girl named Yeh-shen

The Egyptian version of Cinderella was born in the I Century B.C. This version showed the life of a girl named Rhodopis, in the civilization of The Ancient Egypt, located in Northern Africa along the upper Nile River. It was first recorded by the Roman

The Grimm Brothers' version of Cinderella, is known as Aschenputtel, or Ash Girl .

Later, in 1950 Disney produced Cinderella making this fairy tale more popular and making people more interested in finding about other versions of it.

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Nowadays, this fairy tale has inspired various novels, picture books, and musicals such as The Broadway Musical of Cinderella, and movies such as: y

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Ever AfterA Cinderella Story


The common object directing the search of the eligible princess is always a very small shoe.

Leather and gold in Egypt

Satin and velvet in Germany

Glass in the Disney Version

Cinderella is presented as a sensitive, blond girl with green eyes. She is an orphan girl, who has lost one or both of her parents.

She was kidnapped by pirates from her home in Greece, losing both of her parents forever .

Disney Version

Grimms version

In the Grimm and Disney versions, Cinderellas mother died when she was young.

Common Themes

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Mistreatment of the central character

Cinderella was treated badly and was always put down by her siblings.

In the Disney and Grimm Brothers version, the stepmother and stepsisters always treated her terribly and made her do all the hard work.

In the Egyptian Cinderella the reason why the household treated Rodhopis horribly is jealousy.

e loss of an item (a shoe) by which she is recognize

The triumph of Cinderella over her oppressors . Good conquers evil and Cinderella marries her prince (or Pharaoh), as a reward for her good behavior and her kindness.

An element (object, animal or person) which helps her achieve her dream.


In the Egyptian and German versions the main character is referred to by its nickname.
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Rhodopis stands for rosy-cheeked in Greek.

Her stepsisters called her Cinderella because she had to sleep in the cinders.

In the Disney version the main character has a name: Ella.

In the Grimms version of the story the father never dies, but he is never present in the story. In the Egyptian version, Rhodopis is kidnapped and taken away from both of her parents. In the Disney version, the father dies.

When the stepsisters are introduced into the Disney story, they are presented as ugly and unpleasant, while in the remaining versions they are

German Version Disney Version

Added Scenes
In the first scene, the animals fix Cinderellas dress, and her stepsisters destroy it when they find out that their things were used in its decoration. The second added episode shows a locked

While in the Egyptian and North-American version of the fairy tale, Cinderella acts kindly and morally because of her own conviction, in the German version she tries to fulfill her mothers will, which she

Egyptian Version
The Egyptian Cinderella is based on a true story of a Greek girl named Rhodopis who was kidnapped by pirates and taken to Egypt as a slave. She was sold to a Greek man named Charaxos who treated her very kindly. She became the wife of the Pharaoh Amasis that belonged to the twenty-sixth Dynasty that ruled from the year 570 to the 526 B.C. The story of Rhodopis does not include as many magical elements as the Disney

The Egyptian version exposes animals that symbolically represent the old Egyptian gods; this makes the story more mythical than magical. The course of the story is not determined by the fairy godmother (by magic) but by the gods will. Many true aspects of the Egyptian context are reflected on this version for example: slavery, the existence of pirates, the ruling Pharaohs and geographical data (the Nile River and the city of Memphis). Still, the main problem common to all versions is present: rivalry between siblings that in this case is not the rivalry between

In the Disney version, the fairy godmother provides her of a beautiful dress, glass slippers, and a sumptuous carriage with a coachman, a footman, and four handsome horses.

In the Grimms version, a white dove and a hazel tree (which represent her mothers spirit) help Cinderella, granting her three marvelous dresses that she

In contrast, Rhodopis is helped by a falcon that represents Horus (the Egyptian God of the sky), which makes the connection between the Pharaoh and her.

The ball
While in the Egyptian and North American version the ball lasts one day, in the German version, the ball is three days long.

he Egyptian version Rodhopis never arrives to the b


Cinderellas many versions portray different values and traditions of the countries and cultures where they were developed.

The approximation of children towards fairy tales is essential in their education and their behavior as adults. Fairy tales encourage children to face their problems, to follow values and rules stated by society, to try to find and discover their own identities and to accomplish anything they dream.

The analysis of fairy tales is important in childrens education as it is in making older people more aware and conscious of the power of fairy tales as a tool for formation and education of kids .

Even though the chosen versions come from different origins and times, and present different magical and symbolic elements, they all stick to the central problem of rivalry between siblings which is a common problem to children.

And they lived happily ever after