This essay is NOT about Walt Disney!!!!!
Before there was a written language, fairy tales were stories passed on by mouth from generation to generation. Such stories often mirrored the culture to which they were being told and were used to illustrate moral and ethical lessons. Even though each tale began in a different community, or even on a different continent, their basic elements are strikingly similar and the use of fantastical imagery continues to appeal to people of all ages. Over time, the tales’ major components have merged together and made their way into modern day movies, television shows and bedtime stories. As will be examined in this paper, Cinderella and Snow White, two well-known fairy tales developed on separate continents, are no exception.
CULTURAL INTERPRETATION AND MODIFICATION
Much like the game of “telephone,” it’s no surprise that fairy tales became altered, adapted and combined as they travelled from culture to culture. While the basic story remained the same, the characters underwent changes in their names and physical appearances. Even the title was modified to better reflect the society to which it was being told.
In his book Fairy Tales; Their Origin and Meaning , John Thackray Bunce traces the story of Cinderella to a Hindu fable about an Indian monarch and his daughter who was born with a gold necklace that contained her soul. On one birthday, the monarch gifted her with a pair of slippers, one of which she ended up losing on a trip to gather flowers near the mountains. A prince discovered the lost shoe and set on a quest to marry the owner. The prince finally found and wed with the ruler’s daughter. Shortly thereafter, one his wives became jealous and stole the
daughter’s necklace, causing her to die. When the prince found out what had happened, he took the necklace back, placed it on the daughter and brought her back to life. While not known by the name “Cinderella,” this fairytale resembles today’s well-known version. From the gold metal that adorns the necklace, the father’s willingness to provide his daughter with many gifts, an illustration of parents’ deep love toward their children, to the polygamous relationship of the prince, common during the period, it is clear to see how this rendition is customized to the Hindu culture.
In Celtic Fairy Tales , Joseph Jacobs tells the story of a queen and princess named Silver-Tree and Gold-Tree, respectively. One day the two women visited a well and Silver-Tree asked a swimming trout if she was the prettiest woman in the world. Much to her dismay, the trout told her that her daughter was in fact the most beautiful. Once home, Silver-Tree was struck by illness and told her husband that the only thing to cure her was to eat the heart and liver of her daughter. Hoping to fool his wife, the king sent Gold-Tree to be married to a faraway prince and brought his wife the heart and liver of a goat. Making her believe the organs...