There have been over 900 stories written about
the character of Cinderella. That is positive
proof enough to the power of this story.
Almost every culture seems to have its own
Today we will review 5 different Cinderella
stories from different cultures and analyze the
text to see how the different cultures portray
Cinderella stories date back as early as 850 A.D.
The first written version of the Chinese tale Yeh-Shen.
The most popular, modern version was written and
published by Charles Perrault of France in 1697. The
Disney version is based on Perrault’s story.
Most versions include an ineffective father, the absence
of a mother figure, some sort of gathering such as a ball
or festival, mutual attraction with a person of high
status, a lost article, and a search that ends with
success. What makes the Cinderella story so popular
after all these years? I believe that people enjoy reading
about the “underdog” having a chance to win. We all
want to believe that this “rags to riches” idea could
The Cinderella story is actually a fairy tale,
which is part of a larger group of stories called
A folktale is a story that was told again and
again and was eventually written down.
Originally, these folktales were just
entertaining, but then they became vehicles in
which natural phenomena were explained,
relationships were explored, or morals were
However, fairy tales were simply used to delve
into human behavior through fantasy, and offer
hope that justice will prevail in the end.
In Ireland, in the old times, there lived a lad
named Becan. Becan was rather small but his
feet were enormous. When his step mother
and step sisters moved in they banished him to
With the help of a magical bull,
Becan defeats a giant, slays an
dragon, and rescues a princess.
Before the princess can thank Becan, he
disappears leaving only one large boot. The
princess searches the Irish countryside looking
for the owner of the gigantic boot. Can you
guess what happens next?
The unusual twist on the original Cinderella starts
a kind young boy who has to overcome great
obstacles to find true love, just as Cinderella
In the land of Korea, where magical creatures are
as common as cabbage, lives a child named
Pear Blossom. She is as lovely as the pear tree
Planted in celebration of her
Birth, but she is mistreated
By Omoni, her jealous step
Omoni forces her to rise before the sun to cook
and clean until midnight and demands that
Pear Blossom completes three tasks that no
human could possibly do alone. But Pear
Blossom is not alone, magical animals come to
assist her. With the help of her magical friends
she becomes a nobleman’s wife.
Domitila is beautiful, an amazing leather artist
and a talented cook. Most of the classical
elements of a Cinderella story can be found in
Domitila. The difference is that she comes
from a wonderful, nurturing family.
She rises above hardships
and becomes the Governor’s bride.
But, unlike most Cinderellas, the only
transformation in this story is Timoteo’s,
Domitila’s suitor. The story shows how he
matures from an arrogant politician’s son to a
compassionate family man. There is no glass
slipper to fight over, just Domitila’s innate
qualities and her family legacy, that make her
an amazing Cinderella.
Settareh, a beautiful but lonely maiden of long ago Persia,
is neglected by her aunts and cousins, and tormented
by her step sisters. Settareh is not allowed to attend the
Royal New Year’s Celebration with her stepsisters to
meet the prince.
With the help of a mysterious
blue jug, Settareh is able to attend
The festival at the palace and win the
heart of the prince.
But, Poor Settareh! Her troubles start when her
jealous stepsisters discover the secret blue jug
and with wicked magic of their own, they plot
to separate Settareh from her prince.
Mufaro was a happy man. Everyone agreed that
his two daughters were beautiful. Nyasha was
kind and considerate. But everyone knew
Manyara was selfish, bad-tempered, and
except for her father.
When the king decided to
take a wife, he asked Mufaro to
invite his two “Most Worthy and
Beautiful Daughters in the Land,”
to appear before him.
Mufaro said only the king would be able to
choose between the two beautiful daughters.
Manayara did not agree with her father, so she
set out to make certain that she would be the
Each cultural version of the five Cinderellas
had some type of magic entwined except for
Domilita. The Mexican version showed how
having a pure heart and pure qualities can
change another person without magical spells.
The end of each of the different versions of
Cinderella had the basic ending/moral lesson
Good Things Happen to Good People.
By reading the text and looking at the
illustrations, there is an obvious difference in
the clothing the people wore, the hair and skin
color of the characters in the story, the food, the
architecture and the landscape based on the
time period the story took place and the
Each Cinderella or Cinderlad
has someone in their life that
is mean to them.
The Cinderella or Cinderlad
characters are good.
They all find true love at the
Each Cinderella depicts a
character from the time
period and geographical
Each Cinderella story has a
different theme leading to
the traditional ending.
Different types of magic help
them overcome the evil
doings of the people around
Climo, S. & Krupinski, (1996) L.The Irish Cinderlad, Harpers Collins Publisher.
Climo, S. & Heller, R. (1993) The Korean Cinderella: Harpers Collins Publisher.
Climo, S. & Florczak, R. (1999) The Persian Cinderella. Harpers Collins Publisher.
Coburn-Reinhart A. & McLennan C. (2000) Coburn. Illus. by Connie Domitila: A
Cinderella Tale from the Mexican Tradition. Shen’s Books Publishing.
Kite, P. Cinderella: A Cross-cultural Story
Northrup M. , “Multicultural Cinderella Stories” in Book Links
Steptoe, J. (1987) Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters. William Morrow and Company Publishers
Zipes J. , The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales.