The heroine is a young and beautiful girl.
She has lost or is abandoned by her mother.
She is mistreated by a stepmother and/or stepsisters
She is forced to do menial service.
She is aided by supernatural powers (dead mother, animals, fairy)
There is a celebration, festival, ball.
Someone tries to prevent her from going to the celebration.
She meets a young and eligible prince.
She is identified (by a lost shoe, ring, something else).
She marries the prince and lives happily ever after.
Good triumphs over evil.
Indolence is the mark of a lady
Beautiful shoes are the sign of high class; peasants wore
Hearth is the center of home life
Women die in childbirth; the stepmother is a common
element because fathers did not mother children
Ball: A ball is a large party in which the participants dress up
in their finest clothes and dance. Balls were exclusively for
the privileged and wealthy.
Many other variants of the tale have the Cinderella character
meeting the prince at church, one of the few places where
people of different classes might regularly see each other
while gathered to worship in times past.
Young women will desire to sacrifice themselves to
please fathers, suggesting that they are competing
for father’s attention, a result of sibling rivalry and a
desire for daddy’s attention.
The mother is both the good mother who dies but
reappears as a fairy godmother (angel to watch over
the child) and the evil stepmother who wants to hurt
Fathers desire to sleep with daughters; by doing away
with the fathers, the tale sets the scene for a romance
uncomplicated by the daughter’s need to please the
father. This is the transfer of filial love to romantic
Young women and older women are in competition
with each other. Mothers will unconsciously sabotage
their daughters because they are jealous of them for
their supplanting them.
Daughters are jealous of mothers, who marry
the first object of their innocent romantic love.
Good old men are absent or unsexed. Male
power resides in virility (strength) which is only
good when it comes in the form of a desirable
suitor. As men are driven by the need for
sex, only eligible suitors are not monstrous.
Children are victims of their own greed and
long to remain in the child-like
state, dependent on mothers for nourishment.
It is only by breaking that bond that children
find themselves coming into a sense of a more
In Groups of 6, take one of the
Cinderella tale handouts and explain
how it falls into the Cinderella elements.
Classic Fairy Tales
Introduction pp. 74 – 80
pp. 83 – 89
Disney’s Magical Rise
pp. 339 – 352