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Charles Perrault’s “Cinderella” Essay

1642 words - 7 pages

In "Cinderella" by Charles Perrault, the story depicts an imaginative fairytale through the hardships of a mistreated daughter and the magic of a fairy; in essence, Cinderella demonstrates that focusing on materialism is more important and more effective other than working up the path to majesty. Cinderella is a character who is often mistreated by her stepmother and god sisters. Bearing unsuitable personalities, they treat her harshly, leaving all of the chores to her. However, she admits that her tattered clothes are not worthy of a formal event, and continues to be belittled by her stepsisters. Portrayed with low self-esteem and insecurity, she does not respond harshly to their cruel insults. As a result, the main character relies on romanticizing her dream of going to the ball with the help of magic by her fairy godmother.
In the beginning, Cinderella is represented as the maid of the entire home. Readers can identify her as the image of a young woman submissive to the will of her stepmother and stepsisters. She does not argue with them, but only obey, which causes her to appear weak. With a position as the housemaid in the family, she inspires young girls to behave like a lady by treating others equally in kindness and in virtues, hopefully achieving such beauty of character. This could reassure that someday, girls would be able to obtain a Prince strongly enough to marry her. As stated by Kuykendal, “Fractured fairy tales challenge gender stereotypes and patriarchal ideologies only at the story level of the text”. The stepsisters referred to her as ‘Cinderwench’ since she’s sporadically tasked with household chores such as scrubbing the floors, cleaning the bedrooms, and more. Many of these tasks can be traced back to the years where most women were fit for gender biased roles, such as housemaids, seamstresses, and more. To the standards of today’s working class, women are able to find work outside of home other than becoming a housemaid, a seamstress, or any other roles from years ago. Belkin insists that Cinderella is “forced into a gender stereotype”, and as a result, parents are less likely to recommend this story as suitable to their children due to the depiction and occupation of the main character.
Over the course of the story, Cinderella’s fascinating appearance at the royal ball was only for a limited time. She refused to reveal her true appearance as a ragged housewife in plain clothes to the Prince before midnight, and left before the magic diminished. Cinderella cowardly remembered her godmother’s rules and left in spite of being known to the castle as a poor, raggedy woman. When Cinderella arrives, her formal behavior and luscious clothing instantly crowns her princess. The women at the ball question the creation of such a fine dress, and it is through her fashion and personality that she is able to prove her ruling as a princess, though for such a short time. Her first and second days at the ball proved her worthy to the...

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