While Cinderella-type stories date back to the first century BC, the more modern Brothers Grimm version called Aschenputtel (literally, "digging in the ashes") is the version of the story that the Disney film, Cinderella is loosely based on.
And I mean LOOSELY.
The basic storyline of Aschenputtel is similar to the Disney version:
Father remarries an awful woman with awful daughters who make Aschenputtel's life miserable.
The poor girl has her dress made by animals.
She goes to the ball and dances with the prince before leaving behind a glass slipper.
The prince arrives in town and everyone tries on the slipper.
The slipper only fits Aschenputtel.
But in the Brother's Grimm story there is so much more about it that is... well... grim.
In the original, the ball actually lasts over three nights. Each day Ashenputtel would sing to the birds and ask them to make her a dress so, obligingly, they would drop a new dress out of the tree so she could go to the ball.
There are other incidents where Ashenputtel sings as a form of magic, asking for help which she receives because of her good nature. This is a common theme in many of the Grimm fairy tales. If you are good, magic works and karma eventually pays off. If you're bad... well... you'll see in a minute.
The prince, appropriately smitten, tries to follow Aschenputtel after the ball but each time she slips away. On the last night the prince slathers the main staircase in tar but she still manages to escape, this time leaving behind the glass slipper.
In the Grimm version, when the prince goes door to door looking for a match for the slipper the wicked stepmother convinces one of the stepsisters to cut her toe off and then for the other to cut off her heel so that their big feet would fit into the slipper.
And each time the prince was fooled, only to be told by different birds as he was riding off into the sunset to take a look at the bloody glass slipper, as if he could have missed it the first time. I mean, come one, the slipper is made of glass. It's totally transparent!
So finally Aschenputtel slides her perfectly-sized foot into what must have been a horribly filthy glass slipper, and rides off with the prince to live happily ever after, but not before even more birds peck out the stepsister's eyes at the royal wedding, leaving them blind beggars for the rest of their days.
So while the Disney film left out the bloody feet and the gouging of the eyes, the moral of both stories is the same... "be a good person and (eventually) good things will happen".
And be kind to birds...
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