Thursday, September 17, 2015

Cinderella (Aschenputtel)

"Rags to Riches" stories are not unfamiliar to us. It is quite the commonality to root for the underdog! We do it all the time in sports, movies, television shows, and yes, even fairy tales. We find ourselves rooting for the underdog, because we identify with them, hoping for our own personal triumphs and the optimistic ascent to fame and fortune.

The so-called "American Dream" is a quintessential example of the "rags to riches" motif. This ideology is implemented throughout American history: during the California Gold Rush in the mid 1800's, the influx of immigration between 1880-1920, and the hope of joy to come in spite of the disparity of the Great Depression in the 1930's (at which time the phrase was coined by a James Truslow Adams, in his book The Epic of America.)

We crave justice through the rise of a hero/heroine. It is their rise, however, that can create controversy. How is it that they achieved their success? By their own intellect and determination, cheating others, someone else’s rescue, or maybe the grandeur of magic!

Cinderella is THE "rags to riches" fairy tale.

The original German notation, Aschenputtel, better exemplifies the literal rock bottom that Cinderella was living in, constantly covered in ashes and dirt. However the ashes and lentils in the story foreshadow the splendor that is to come. For out of the death of the ashes we see the growth of life and prosperity within the lentils; a diamond in the ruff, if you will.

It is in my opinion that magic is the dominant means by which Cinderella achieved her acclaimed rise. 

Some may argue that it is the prince who should be praised for saving Cinderella from her retched servant's life and replacing it with one of royalty and opulence. If you ask me, I'd say he's is pretty shallow. The prince would not have even noticed Cinderella if it were not for the magic indirectly granted to her by her dead mother. He only gave initial interest in Cinderella because he assumed she was a princess.
    ~ "When the prince saw the carriage come to a halt before the gate, he thought that a strange princess from afar had come traveling to the ball. So he himself went down the stairs, helped cinderella out of the carriage and led her into the ballroom"'s_Carriage.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20120428165437
Furthermore, the prince does not recognize Cinderella after the ball! He even takes her stepsister all the way to the castle gates before he realizes (only after the birds encourage him too look at the girl's bloody foot) that she is not his true bride. 

Needless to say, without magic there is no story. Cinderella wouldn't get help from the birds to finish her chores, leaving her unable to go to the ball with her horse drawn carriage, beautiful dress and golden shoes, making it impossible for her to meet the prince and get married. No magic, no fairy tale, no princess. 

It is possible to to go from rags to riches without magic or marriage. People who use their cunning and commit to working hard are capable of doing so. But in my opinion, this does not hold true for Cinderella.  

Grimm, William, and Jakob Grimm. "Cinderella." The Original Folk and Fairy Tales 
     of the Brothers Grimm. Ed. Jack Zipes. Prinston & Oxford: Prinston 
     University, 2014. 69-72. Print. 

"James Truslow Adams Papers, 1918-1949. ." James Truslow Adams Papers, 1918-1949. . Web. 17 Sept. 2015.

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