In the Middle Ages literature cycle, the Cinderella story is one of the most popular narratives which has different versions and variables. The Moon Ribbon story and Ashputtle have some similarities and different but both of them are based on the same plot development and ending. While Ashputtle and Sylva both share reliance on their mothers and get retribution at the end of the stories for their unhappy lives, Ashputtle depends on a prince for her happiness where Sylva found her happiness within her sense of own completeness.
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The death of mothers is a critical turning point in both stories which changes the lives and destinies of the heroines. The adoption by stepmothers adds emotional tension and creates an atmosphere of solitude and sufferings. In Moon Ribbon and Ashputtle, physical punishments and abuse are described as natural relations inside the family. For instance, iIn Ashputtle, the first name of the girl is connected with ashes indicating her low position in the house. In Moon Ribbon and Ashputtle, the low social position of the girls and abusive relations inside the family result in support coming from a supernatural source, from a moon ribbon, or from a tree on the mother’s grave. Ashputtle receives a help from a tree and a bird as the only possible lsource of help: “Whereupon the bird tossed down a gold and silver dress and slippers with silk and silver” (Grimm and Grimm). This quotes shows that a tree springs up which magical power and supports beautiful clothes for Ashputtle. In Moon Ribbon, the author writes: “the silver ribbon … began to grow and change, and the air filled with woman’s soft voice” (Yolen). The ribbon is described as a helping hand and a source of wisdom and universal truth. While not so universally told as its companion story, Moon Ribbon follows traditions of other fairy tales which assign magical power to inanimate things.
In both stories, punishment is a natural end of abuse and unequal relations faced by the young characters of the stories. In the Moon Ribbon story and Ashputtle punishment is a natural consequence of unfair treatment and cruelty, violence and aggression towards the girls. One of the purposes of this literary device is to unveil that wickedness is properly punished. It is not until the end characters discover the unworthy or the crime. Thus, as both stories depict, one of the best ways to understand the heart is to see what use one will make of unlimited authority. In the Moon Ribbon the author describes: “the silver ribbon wriggled and writhered in the sun light” (Yolen). The both story prove that if a character is modest and very kind, such trait will be only strength; but if the character is overbearing and unkind, she will surely bring about downfall. The main wisdom of the tales can be found in explanation of the increasing wastefulness of the human wishes and their astonishing consequences.
The absence of the prince in Moon Ribbon does not influence “the happy end” of the stories and does not change the primary idea of universal truth and justice. The uniqueness is that Ashputtle has to flee from the prince and the prince has to search for the beautiful girl to find happiness and love: “He danced with no one but her” (Grimm and Grimm). In Moon Ribbon, absence of the prince adds emotional tension and uncertainty to the narration. Thus, this structure vividly protracts that happiness and love should be deserved by people who have kind heart and believe in miracles.
In sum, the stories under analysis show that the Moon Ribbon story and Ashputtle have similar plot development and themes but differ in their endings. This is brought about by means of time projections. In both stories where it is suitable, the heroines show her strengths and self-identity through successful outcomes and happy family life. The general outline of the tales is persevered as a framework of narrative.
Grimm, J, Grimm, W. Ashputtle.
Yolen, J. Moon Ribbon.