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Interpreting “Cinderella” by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm Essay


Cinderella, by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, tells the story of a young child, Cinderella, whose mother dies and her father re-marries a cruel step-mom who has two daughters. In spite of the continuous mistreatment by her step-mom and stepsisters, Cinderella does not return evil for evil; she stays true to her mother’s wish that she be good and pious. Fortunately, luck finally smiles upon her; she wins the heart of the prince in the Kingdom, and they get married.

The story, Cinderella, insinuates that people with higher power and social class should hold higher moral character over those of a lower social class and those who act piously would eventually ascend to a higher social standard. On the other side, the evil ones are defeated by the power of good. However, the story also implies that women must depend on their good character in hopes of finding a man who can take good care of them, especially in financial matters.

In the story Cinderella, the message communicated is that those who are rich tend to have a higher morality than those who belong to lower socio-economic classes. In contrast to the noble acts and intentions of the Monarchy – the King and specifically the Prince, characters belonging in the lower socio-economic classes appear as having comparatively lower moral standards. The stepmother and her daughters, and even Cinderella’s father, are all portrayed as evil and they are representatives of the lower class.

The stepsisters mistreat and despise Cinderella. “Is the stupid goose to sit in the parlor with us?” (Grimm and Wilhelm Para. 2), they ask as they set forth the pattern of continuous mistreatment of their stepsister. This evil nature is true of their mother and stepfather too. On the other hand, the king and prince appear as inherently good, with the prince willing to give the poor maiden a chance to try to fit the shoe of royalty even though it seems most unlikely she is the girl he is looking for (Grimm and Wilhelm Para. 13).

Similarly, Cinderella portrays the concept that those born into a lower economic class and acquire a similar moral character as those of a higher class, will ultimately be brought up into a higher social stature. This idea is especially true of Cinderella who endures harsh circumstances once her mother in-law steps into the house. Due to her continued good behavior, even miracles work out for her.

In paragraph two of the story, a bird caters for her wishes, seemingly because of her positive moral behavior: “…a little white bird always came on the tree, and if Cinderella expressed a wish, the bird threw down to her what she had wished for” (Grimm and Wilhelm Para. 2). In the end, Cinderella marries the prince in the ultimate triumph of her pious beliefs and acts of good over evil, and she goes to the very top of the socio-economic ladder.

The concept of good things coming to good people is explored in Cinderella. Most probably still in her teens, Cinderella endures verbal and emotional abuse that would quickly overwhelm anyone her age. In spite of her humility, she is mockingly called a “proud princess” and is overworked by her stepmother and stepsisters: “There she had to do hard work from morning till night, get up before daybreak, fetch water, light fire, cook, and wash” (Grimm and Wilhelm Para. 2).

All the mocking and ill-treatment are depicted as a trial for Cinderella. Nevertheless, she eventually wins the eye of the prince, gets married to him and her journey to the palace becomes a reward for her endurance, patience, and virtues. Her mother, while dying, beseeched her to be good and always prayerful, and told her that if she did these things, the Good Lord would always protect her, and her mother would look down on her from heaven with favor (Grimm and Wilhelm Para. 1).

Therefore, when she moves out of her life of misery and poverty by virtue of marrying the prince, her reward for being pious is implied. On the other hand, the evil acts of the stepmother and her daughters are punished in the end. The two daughters, in their vain attempts to fit into the shoe that the prince had come with while seeking Cinderella, end up with amputated toes and heels.

Additionally, the Cinderella story explores the idea that engaging in wickedness and greed will eventually lead to one’s downfall. Despite their unceasing efforts to subjugate Cinderella, the stepmother and her daughters eventually loose the fight. Their dramatic defeat is magnified when, to their shock and consternation, and after the girls separately cut off their toes and feet in vain attempts to fit into Cinderella’s shoe, she fits perfectly into the shoe and the prince cries, “That is the true bride” (Grimm and Wilhelm Para. 12).

The two daughters, after realizing that Cinderella is as now of her higher socio-economic status than they are, they decide to belatedly befriend her and accompany her to her wedding. However, they both have their eyes gouged out by birds that have erstwhile been providentially protecting and providing for Cinderella.

In addition, Cinderella as a story communicates the idea that women must depend on their good character in the hopes of finding a man who would take care of them financially. All of Cinderella’s struggles and her eventual triumph over poverty are directed towards settling into marriage. Cinderella primarily wins the heart of the prince by acting like a ‘good girl’ and within the society’s moral expectations, and her eventual reward is not a good job, or a beautiful home, but marriage to a prince (Grimm and Wilhelm Para. 13).

The two evil stepsisters, with the support of their stepmother, engage in extreme acts in order to get married to the prince, a sure ticket to a life of financial stability. The story therefore depicts marriage as the only route through which women can acquire social and financial stability, and women are portrayed as willing to sacrifice a lot in order to be married.

In conclusion, Cinderella is underscores three different truths; first, persons from high social classes are expected to have, high moral standards. The king and the prince portray high moral standards through out the story. Second, evil breeds evil and good deeds births goodness. The wicked stepmother and her equally loathsome daughters pay fro their evil deeds while Cinderella receives goodness as the story closes. Finally, the story insinuates that marriage is one of the itineraries to financial security, at least for women.

Works Cited

Grimm, Jacob, and Wilhelm, Grimm. Household Tales (Cinderella). Vol. XVII, Part 2. The Harvard Classics. New York: P.F. Collier & Son, 2001. Web.

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IvyPanda. "Interpreting "Cinderella" by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm." April 25, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/interpreting-cinderella-by-jacob-and-wilhelm-grimm/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Interpreting "Cinderella" by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm." April 25, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/interpreting-cinderella-by-jacob-and-wilhelm-grimm/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Interpreting "Cinderella" by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm'. 25 April.

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