May 24, 2012

Cinderella, by Charles Perrault

Editor's note: Below is the text of "Cinderella," from Andrew Lang's Blue Fairy Book, first published in 1889. While the ending in this particular version is a bit too sweet for my tastes, the "color" fairy tale books have been so widely read, it seemed the best text to add to EC.

Cinderella is my favorite fairy tale heroine. When presented with a real chance to go to the ball and meet her fate, she grabs the opportunity with gusto. She clearly enchants the prince with more than just her looks, and the fact that she had long served as a maid and cook suggests that once she is chatelaine of a castle, she will know her business. Dare I say it? Cinderella seems a bit modern. She takes her chances and wins.

Edmund Dulac
Once there was a gentleman who married, for his second wife, the proudest and most haughty woman that was ever seen. She had, by a former husband, two daughters of her own humor, who were, indeed, exactly like her in all things. He had likewise, by another wife, a young daughter, but of unparalleled goodness and sweetness of temper, which she took from her mother, who was the best creature in the world.

No sooner were the ceremonies of the wedding over but the mother-in-law began to show herself in her true colors. She could not bear the good qualities of this pretty girl, and the less because they made her own daughters appear the more odious. She employed her in the meanest work of the house: she scoured the dishes, tables, etc., and scrubbed madam's chamber, and those of misses, her daughters; she lay up in a sorry garret, upon a wretched straw bed, while her sisters lay in fine rooms, with floors all inlaid, upon beds of the very newest fashion, and where they had looking-glasses so large that they might see themselves at their full length from head to foot.

The poor girl bore all patiently, and dared not tell her father, who would have rattled her off; for his wife governed him entirely. When she had done her work, she used to go into the chimney-corner, and sit down among cinders and ashes, which made her commonly be called Cinderwench; but the youngest, who was not so rude and uncivil as the eldest, called her Cinderella. However, Cinderella, notwithstanding her mean apparel, was a hundred times handsomer than her sisters, though they were always dressed very richly.
It happened that the King's son gave a ball, and invited all persons of fashion to it. Our young misses were also invited, for they cut a very grand figure among the quality. They were mightily delighted at this invitation, and wonderfully busy in choosing out such gowns, petticoats, and head-clothes as might become them. This was a new trouble to Cinderella; for it was she who ironed her sisters' linen, and plaited their ruffles; they talked all day long of nothing but how they should be dressed.

Gustav Dore
"For my part," said the eldest, "I will wear my red velvet suit with French trimming."

"And I," said the youngest, "shall have my usual petticoat; but then, to make amends for that, I will put on my gold-flowered manteau, and my diamond stomacher, which is far from being the most ordinary one in the world."

They sent for the best tire-woman they could get to make up their head-dresses and adjust their double pinners, and they had their red brushes and patches from Mademoiselle de la Poche.

Cinderella was likewise called up to them to be consulted in all these matters, for she had excellent notions, and advised them always for the best, nay, and offered her services to dress their heads, which they were very willing she should do. As she was doing this, they said to her:

"Cinderella, would you not be glad to go to the ball?"

Adrienne Segur

 "Alas!" said she, "you only jeer me; it is not for such as I am to go thither."

"Thou art in the right of it," replied they; "it would make the people laugh to see a Cinderwench at a ball."

Anyone but Cinderella would have dressed their heads awry, but she was very good, and dressed them perfectly well They were almost two days without eating, so much were they transported with joy. They broke above a dozen laces in trying to be laced up close, that they might have a fine slender shape, and they were continually at their looking-glass. At last the happy day came; they went to Court, and Cinderella followed them with her eyes as long as she could, and when she had lost sight of them, she fell a-crying.
Her godmother, who saw her all in tears, asked her what was the matter.

"I wish I could—I wish I could—"; she was not able to speak the rest, being interrupted by her tears and sobbing.

This godmother of hers, who was a fairy, said to her, "Thou wishest thou couldst go to the ball; is it not so?"

"Y—es," cried Cinderella, with a great sigh.

"Well," said her godmother, "be but a good girl, and I will contrive that thou shalt go." Then she took her into her chamber, and said to her, "Run into the garden, and bring me a pumpkin."

She then went to look into her mouse-trap, where she found six mice, all alive, and ordered Cinderella to lift up a little the trapdoor, when, giving each mouse, as it went out, a little tap with her wand, the mouse was that moment turned into a fine horse, which altogether made a very fine set of six horses of a beautiful mouse-colored dapple-gray. Being at a loss for a coachman, "I will go and see," says Cinderella, "if there is never a rat in the rat-trap—we may make a coachman of him."

"Thou art in the right," replied her godmother; "go and look."

Edmund Dulac

Cinderella brought the trap to her, and in it there were three huge rats. The fairy made choice of one of the three which had the largest beard, and, having touched him with her wand, he was turned into a fat, jolly coachman, who had the smartest whiskers eyes ever beheld. After that, she said to her:

"Go again into the garden, and you will find six lizards behind the watering-pot, bring them to me."

She had no sooner done so but her godmother turned them into six footmen, who skipped up immediately behind the coach, with their liveries all bedaubed with gold and silver, and clung as close behind each other as if they had done nothing else their whole lives. The Fairy then said to Cinderella:

"Well, you see here an equipage fit to go to the ball with; are you not pleased with it?"

"Oh! yes," cried she; "but must I go thither as I am, in these nasty rags?"

Her godmother only just touched her with her wand, and, at the same instant, her clothes were turned into cloth of gold and silver, all beset with jewels. This done, she gave her a pair of glass slippers, the prettiest in the whole world. Being thus decked out, she got up into her coach; but her godmother, above all things, commanded her not to stay till after midnight, telling her, at the same time, that if she stayed one moment longer, the coach would be a pumpkin again, her horses mice, her coachman a rat, her footmen lizards, and her clothes become just as they were before.

Wanda Gag

She promised her godmother she would not fail of leaving the ball before midnight; and then away she drives, scarce able to contain herself for joy. The King's son who was told that a great princess, whom nobody knew, was come, ran out to receive her; he gave her his hand as she alighted out of the coach, and led her into the ball, among all the company. There was immediately a profound silence, they left off dancing, and the violins ceased to play, so attentive was everyone to contemplate the singular beauties of the unknown new-comer. Nothing was then heard but a confused noise of:

"Ha! how handsome she is! Ha! how handsome she is!"

The King himself, old as he was, could not help watching her, and telling the Queen softly that it was a long time since he had seen so beautiful and lovely a creature.

All the ladies were busied in considering her clothes and headdress, that they might have some made next day after the same pattern, provided they could meet with such fine material and as able hands to make them.
The King's son conducted her to the most honorable seat, and afterward took her out to dance with him; she danced so very gracefully that they all more and more admired her. A fine collation was served up, whereof the young prince ate not a morsel, so intently was he busied in gazing on her.

She went and sat down by her sisters, showing them a thousand civilities, giving them part of the oranges and citrons which the Prince had presented her with, which very much surprised them, for they did not know her. While Cinderella was thus amusing her sisters, she heard the clock strike eleven and three-quarters, whereupon she immediately made a courtesy to the company and hasted away as fast as she could.

Aubrey Beardsley
When she got home she ran to seek out her godmother, and, after having thanked her, she said she could not but heartily wish she might go next day to the ball, because the King's son had desired her.

As she was eagerly telling her godmother whatever had passed at the ball, her two sisters knocked at the door, which Cinderella ran and opened.

"How long you have stayed!" cried she, gaping, rubbing her eyes and stretching herself as if she had been just waked out of her sleep; she had not, however, any manner of inclination to sleep since they went from home.

"If thou hadst been at the ball," said one of her sisters, "thou wouldst not have been tired with it. There came thither the finest princess, the most beautiful ever was seen with mortal eyes; she showed us a thousand civilities, and gave us oranges and citrons."

Cinderella seemed very indifferent in the matter; indeed, she asked them the name of that princess; but they told her they did not know it, and that the King's son was very uneasy on her account and would give all the world to know who she was. At this Cinderella, smiling, replied:

"She must, then, be very beautiful indeed; how happy you have been! Could not I see her? Ah! dear Miss Charlotte, do lend me your yellow suit of clothes which you wear every day."

"Ay, to be sure!" cried Miss Charlotte; "lend my clothes to such a dirty Cinderwench as thou art! I should be a fool."

Cinderella, indeed, expected well such answer, and was very glad of the refusal; for she would have been sadly put to it if her sister had lent her what she asked for jestingly.

The next day the two sisters were at the ball, and so was Cinderella, but dressed more magnificently than before. The King's son was always by her, and never ceased his compliments and kind speeches to her; to whom all this was so far from being tiresome that she quite forgot what her godmother had recommended to her; so that she, at last, counted the clock striking twelve when she took it to be no more than eleven; she then rose up and fled, as nimble as a deer. The Prince followed, but could not overtake her. She left behind one of her glass slippers, which the Prince took up most carefully. She got home but quite out of breath, and in her nasty old clothes, having nothing left her of all her finery but one of the little slippers, fellow to that she dropped. The guards at the palace gate were asked:

If they had not seen a princess go out.

French advertisement

Who said: They had seen nobody go out but a young girl, very meanly dressed, and who had more the air of a poor country wench than a gentlewoman.

When the two sisters returned from the ball Cinderella asked them: If they had been well diverted, and if the fine lady had been there.

They told her: Yes, but that she hurried away immediately when it struck twelve, and with so much haste that she dropped one of her little glass slippers, the prettiest in the world, which the King's son had taken up; that he had done nothing but look at her all the time at the ball, and that most certainly he was very much in love with the beautiful person who owned the glass slipper.

What they said was very true; for a few days after the King's son caused it to be proclaimed, by sound of trumpet, that he would marry her whose foot the slipper would just fit. They whom he employed began to try it upon the princesses, then the duchesses and all the Court, but in vain; it was brought to the two sisters, who did all they possibly could to thrust their foot into the slipper, but they could not effect it. Cinderella, who saw all this, and knew her slipper, said to them, laughing:

"Let me see if it will not fit me."

Harry Clarke
Her sisters burst out a-laughing, and began to banter her. The gentleman who was sent to try the slipper looked earnestly at Cinderella, and, finding her very handsome, said:

It was but just that she should try, and that he had orders to let everyone make trial.

He obliged Cinderella to sit down, and, putting the slipper to her foot, he found it went on very easily, and fitted her as if it had been made of wax. The astonishment her two sisters were in was excessively great, but still abundantly greater when Cinderella pulled out of her pocket the other slipper, and put it on her foot.

Thereupon, in came her godmother, who, having touched with her wand Cinderella's clothes, made them richer and more magnificent than any of those she had before.

And now her two sisters found her to be that fine, beautiful lady whom they had seen at the ball. They threw themselves at her feet to beg pardon for all the ill-treatment they had made her undergo. Cinderella took them up, and, as she embraced them, cried:

That she forgave them with all her heart, and desired them always to love her.
She was conducted to the young prince, dressed as she was; he thought her more charming than ever, and, a few days after, married her. Cinderella, who was no less good than beautiful, gave her two sisters lodgings in the palace, and that very same day matched them with two great lords of the Court.

Names of artists are underneath images.


Laura B. said...

You chose fun illustrations!

Ruth Sokol said...

Being a newbie to Enchanted Conversation, I have enjoyed reading the posts and comments to some of my favorite fairy tales. Of course with Cinderella being one of my favorite fairy tales since I was a child from watching the Disney version of the movie, I was delighted to come across this older version of the story. Along with the wonderful illustrations that fit well within the story, I found a lot of things interesting about this version of Cinderella. Throughout reading the story I realized that Cinderella seems slightly less innocent than she is portrayed in the Brother’s Grimm version. She appears to show no animosity towards her step sisters, with them even asking her to go to the ball and the sisters apologizing dearly to Cinderella for being cruel to her at the end of the 1889 version of Cinderella. The Brother’s Grimm version came along with much more intensity and drama compared to this story. I see these two tales almost as different stories, one more delightful and easy to read while the Grimm version to be, well, grim.

Anonymous said...

After reading the version of Cinderella, “The Fairy Godmother's Trial”, By Judy DaPolito, I read this and tried to view the Fairy Godmother as the young inexperienced girl that DaPolito portrays her as, but in this version I only saw a confident experienced older women. In this version, the Godmother is a take-charge woman. She sees that Cinderella needs help and she sets out to help her. In Disney’s version of Cinderella we see the Fairy Godmother as matronly and a bit absent minded. Each version holds a different interpretation of the Fairy Godmother. When one compares this version of Cinderella with “Cinderella: A Rat to Riches Story”, By Zoe Marzo, one can see that the author wrote it more off of Disney’s version of Cinderella. In Disney’s version, the Mice were her friends whereas, in this version, the rats/mice are inconsequential to Cinderella. Each version is unique and exciting in it’s own way. I love how each author gives one a different look into the story of Cinderella.

Abbey Ward

Anonymous said...

Cinderella, By Charles Perrault

I absolutely love the Disney version of “Cinderella.” One thing I have noticed that is different in many of the versions of “Cinderella” is the ending in which what really happens to the two evil stepsisters and stepmother. In the Charles Perrault version after all the wrong doing the stepsisters and stepmother does to poor Cinderella she forgives them all and marries the two stepsisters off to wealthy lords. In the Disney version of “Cinderella” she simply just drives off in her carriage with her prince and does not do any harm or good deeds to them, but my favorite ending is in the movie “Ever After.” In “Ever After” the girl meant to portray Cinderella forgives one sister because she was always good to her but makes her other evil stepsister and stepmother work, as she had to do her whole life. This includes doing everybody’s laundry, which was a horrible task back then. In the end Cinderella is happy with her prince in all of the stories and she lives happily ever after.
-Tiffany P.

HD said...

“Cinderella” is basically the poster child for ‘the American dream.’ It’s the romantic notion of turning nothing into something, of climbing up from the bottom of the ladder. This classic telling of the fairy tale is very similar to the well-known Disney animated version most people have become familiar with. Cinderella is kind, caring, patient, intelligent, and a hard worker to boot. Her wicked step-mother and step-sisters constantly strive to suppress the natural beauty and goodness she possesses. What’s most interesting is the fact that in this instance Cinderella’s biological father is still very much alive and a part of her life though turns a blind eye to her suffering, favoring instead his new wife and her daughters. This seems to have the undertones of a classic case of bad or lazy parenting. Despite everything Cinderella retains a gracious attitude towards her haughty sisters wishing only for their love and single handedly secures them a prosperous future. The moral seems to be that hard-work and kindness goes a very long way.

Anonymous said...

Cinderella is an overall beautiful character. She shows true beauty through her character in this story. Inner beauty displays so easily for her being that she is so poorly treated yet has a loving, compassionate, and forgiving heart says so much about her. At the end of this story when she is able to embrace her sisters and generously forgive them of their terrible attitudes and treatment towards her is an excellent example of a kind hearted, compassionate, and forgiving individual. Also, this story really helps symbolize how materialistic and disheartening our society can truly be. We are so quick to judge the poor, the “untrendy”, the less fortunate, and all just simply because of what they are wearing or for their outward appearances? No! It should not be this way, and for me this story helps to prove that you don’t need to the best of the best concerning materialistic things to be happy, content, and loving or compassionate. Many times the less fortunate may be happier or have a happier ending compared to the desperately greedy individuals. I just love how Cinderella displays what true beauty is within this story; inner beauty speaks loudly. - Kelsey S.

Anonymous said...

I have to admit I never really saw Cinderella as a modern woman until I read the editor's note above. That got me thinking that she has far better qualities than most of the Disney princesses I grew up knowing. I always had the idea that she was quite old fashion in the sense that she wanted the happily ever after with the prince. Of course, that is something the Disney version of Cinderella over emphasizes. With this version it was easier to see that Cinderella just really wanted the chance to attend the ball. I enjoyed the fact that she actually went to the ball more than once giving the prince a better opportunity to get to know her instead of the love at first sight story. However, I did feel that Cinderella was a bit generous in forgiving her sisters so readily and even letting them live in the palace with her. It might not have been my reaction but it does give Cinderella that air of true goodness. - Melinda P.

Unknown said...

I dislike this version very much. It is definitely not what I'm used to by Disney standards. But then again I've never really been particularly fond of the Disney version of Cinderella either. I prefer The Little Mermaid; the Disney version and the original fairy tale. I dislike this version because Cinderella actually gave her evil step sisters a place to live and men to marry. Why?! I would have kicked them out of the kingdom, banished them to the edge of the haunted woods or something. ( I added in haunted woods because of how that's kind of associated with some fairy tales) After discussing this story in class I then understood that she wasn't in fact being nice by giving them Lords to marry and a place to live because they would now forever serve her, but at the same time I still say I would have given a harsher revenge. Some kind of torture would have probably been my choice to go along with banishment.

Anonymous said...

I found this version of Cinderella to be a refreshing change of pace from the Disney version. In this version the step mother is implied to be as malicious as her Disney counterpart, yet it is the step sisters who do most of the taunting and jeering. In fact we hear next to nothing of the step mother in the original version. She is even left out when Cinderella pardons her step sisters at the end of the story. It seems by all accounts that the step mother is in fact not as evil as the step sisters in the original version. This is somewhat amusing since it was in fact the Disney version of Cinderella the constructed the evil step mother character. In the original version however it is not the step mother who is the most evil, but the sisters. And yet after all her sisters put her through Cinderella still finds it in herself to pardon them in the end. Maybe the original and the Disney version aren’t too different after all.
Jake M.