English 3524 Essay 1- Option 5
Fairy tales have evolved significantly over time, and stories that were once written in the 19th century are still relevant in today’s society. Although these stories have carried over from decade to decade, they’ve become more modernized, and some even turned into films. “Cinderella” is an internationally known book and film that nearly every child is familiar with.
“Aschenputtel” by the Brothers Grim is one of the many versions of “Cinderella” written in the 19th century. In this story Aschenputtel’s (meaning Ash fool) biological mother dies but promises her that God will protect her. Her father then marries a woman who strips Aschenputtel of all of her clothes and jewels and forces her to wear rags. Shortly after, the father goes to a fair and asks his two stepdaughters and Aschenputtel what they want him to bring back from the fair. The stepdaughters asked for fine clothes and jewels but Aschenputtel asks of her father, “The first twig, father, that strikes against your hat on the way home; that is what I should like you to bring me” (57). The father brings home what the girls asked for and Aschenputtel plants the twig, representing the growing cycle of life, at her mother’s grave and waters it with her tears, eventually turning into a beautiful hazel tree. She prays at it three times a day and a white bird always showed up.
Next, the King decides to throw a three-day festival for his son, the Prince, to find his wife. All of the wealthy women in the town were invited, but Aschenputtel’s stepmother wouldn’t allow her to go unless she picked up a “dish-full of lentils” in two hours. The birds came to help Aschenputtel complete this task and once she had finished the stepmother gave her two more difficult tasks, in which the birds also helped her complete. Aschenputtel then goes to her mother’s grave and says to the hazel tree, “Little tree, little tree, shake over me, that silver and gold may come down and cover me” (58). Just as she had asked, the birds in the tree threw down a beautiful dress and slippers and Aschenputtel made her way to the festival. She was the most beautiful girl at the dance and the Prince was so struck by her beauty when anyone else tried to dance with him he looked at Aschenputtel and said, “She is my partner” (58).
The festival went on for two more nights, and Aschenputtel looked even more stunning than the nights before. The birds warned her that she needed to be back before midnight, so each night she left according to the bird’s orders. But on the third night the Prince was determined he would keep her so he covered the stairs in pitch, resulting in Aschenputtel losing one of her gold slippers and the Prince declared he would marry the women who’s foot fit in the slipper. He went to Aschenputtel’s house and let her stepsisters try on the shoe. They tried to make the slipper fit by cutting off their toes and heels but the white birds then shouted to the Prince that there was blood on the shoe, and it wasn’t the right girl. Aschenputtel then tried the slipper on and the Prince realized that she had been the stunning woman at the dance. She rode off with the Prince and the birds shouted, “There they go, there they go! No blood on her shoe; the shoe’s not too small, the right bride is she after all” (60-61). At the wedding the stepsisters get their eyes pelted out by birds and live blind for the rest of their lives as their self-punishment for treating Aschenputtel poorly for their entire lives.
A Cinderella Story, a Warner Brothers film, directed by Mark Rosman, is a modern day movie based on the fairy tale, Cinderella. The lead character, Sam Montgomery lives with her stepmother, Fiona and her two stepsisters, Gabriella and Brianna after her father dies in an earthquake when she was 8 years old. Sam works at her father’s diner and is very close with Rhonda, another diner worker who treats Sam like her daughter and is essentially her mentor. Sam has a cyber relationship with Austin Ames, the quarter back of the high school football team and the most popular guy in school. Although Austin and Sam text or IM chat all the time, they don’t know who each other are, and Austin plans to meet Sam at the school Halloween dance. The night of the dance, Fiona makes Sam work at the diner until midnight, when Fiona will come back and check on her. Rhonda helps Sam plan a way for her to go to the dance and lets Sam wear her wedding dress, to go to the dance as Cinderella. Sam wears a mask that covers her eyes, so she can somewhat disguise herself for when she meets Austin who is dressed as Prince Charming. They meet up at the dance but Sam never tells Austin her name, and when her cell phone alarm goes off at 11:45 she runs back to get to the diner before Fiona finds out where she was. As she is running off to get back to the diner, she drops her cell phone without noticing and Austin goes to pick it up.
The next day at school Austin makes flyers to search for his Cinderella and both of the stepsisters try and prove that they are the girls he is looking for. He realizes that neither of them are the right girl when he asks what they left at the dance and they can’t come up with the right answer. The stepsisters figure out it is Sam who is Cinderella when they are snooping through her computer and plot with Shelby, Austin’s ex-girlfriend to reveal who Sam is and embarrass her at the school pep-rally. Austin is shocked to find out that Sam is the girl who he has had a cyber relationship with and Sam runs off, humiliated. Later that day, before the football game, Sam goes into the locker room and tells Austin that “waiting for you is like waiting for rain in this drought, useless and disappointing.” In the end, Austin leaves the field, despite his dad’s orders, right before he’s supposed to score the winning touchdown and goes and kisses Sam. The movie end with Sam leaving her cruel stepsisters and stepmother, living with Rhonda and finding out that her and Austin both got into their dream school, Princeton.
Maid in Manhattan, a Columbia Pictures film, directed by Wayne Wang, is another spin off of the fairytale, Cinderella. The main character, Marissa Ventura is a single mother to her son Ty, and works as a maid for a hotel in Manhattan, New York. While cleaning Caroline Lane’s room (a wealthy, well-known guest at the hotel), she decides to try on a fur coat from the closet, all while Ty has befriended a Senate candidate, Chris Marshall. Ty goes to find his mom in Caroline’s room and brings Chris with him, where Chris lays eyes on Marissa and instantly catches feelings for her, the only problem being that Chris thinks Marissa is Caroline Lane. Chris asks the hotel to send a invitation for lunch to Caroline, and it shocked when the real Caroline Lane shows up and not Marissa. Chris asks for the hotel head butler, Lionel, to help him track down the “other Caroline Lane” to invite her to an important dinner and dance and Lionel figures out that it is actually Marissa who Chris has been looking for. The hotel staff helps Marissa get ready for the dinner by lending her a beautiful, expensive dress and a necklace and helping her style her hair. Caroline spots Marissa leaving Chris’ room the next morning and alerts the hotel staff, where Marissa is then fired in front of Caroline and Chris. That is temporarily the end of Chris and Marissa, and they spend many months apart. In the mean time, Marissa is scolded by her mother, Veronica. Marissa finds a job at another hotel and weeks later, Chris is giving a press conference there and Ty is in the audience. Ty asks Chris from the audience whether people should be forgiven if the make mistakes, which allows Chris to think and give Marissa another chance. The movie ends showing that Chris and Marissa got back together and Chris won the election and Marissa started her own hospitality business.
Over time, fairy tales have evolved and been recreated to reflect modern times. In “Aschenputtel”, instead of a fairy godmother, it’s the magical hazel tree and the ball, which is three nights in a row, rather than just one. In A Cinderella Story the ball is just one night and she loses her cell phone, not her shoe and Rhonda essentially steps in as her “fairy godmother.” These differences show the obvious cultural separation from the 19th century to the modern technology driven 21st century. In Maid in Manhattan the dinner is only one night and the hotel staff help her get ready for the ball, essentially standing in and being her “fairy godmother.” Along with this, instead of something being lost like a cellphone or a slipper, she gets caught wearing a fur coat that’s not hers. Another cultural difference is that in A Cinderella Story, Sam sticks up for herself to her stepmother and in “Aschenputtel” that would have never happened, and she ends up completing all the tasks her stepmother asks her too. This just shows how much women have evolved over time, because back in the 19th century it would have been unheard of for a girl to go against her mother’s wishes and fight back for herself.
Both Maid in Manhattan and A Cinderella Story were modern day versions of Cinderella, but they were made in America just a few decades ago, so there is a huge gap in time from those films to “Aschenputtel.” Not only can you tell the differences by comparing glass slipper to cell phones or fur coats, but also the difference in the language that is used. The modern technology used in A Cinderella Story and the cyber relationships create an entirely newfound language of acronyms and misspellings of words. For example, “LOL” is used as an acronym for “laughing out loud” and “TTYL” is used as an acronym for “talk to you later.”
“Aschenputtel” was written in Germany in the 19th century and because of this cultural and geographical difference with the America and the 21st century it makes the fairy tales have different significance and therefore, a different effect on people. In “Aschenputtel” she is saved from her evil stepfamily by winning the prince over and marrying into royalty. However, in A Cinderella Story, Sam saves herself from her unfortunate circumstances by standing up to her stepmother and moving in with Rhonda, and for once taking a stand against the unfair treatment. In Maid in Manhattan, Marissa defies the typical theme of Cinderella, and “Aschenputtel” by being a single mother, and also leaving her “Prince” to start a new life without the help of a man. This teaches young women that they can be independent and self-sufficient even without their “prince charming.” With these cultural and geographical differences, it can change and enhance the meaning of the story.