Once upon a time, in ancient Egypt, a princess was born. But before her happily ever after, she had to live a challenging life of servitude, duty, and a deep belief in her own character. The long life of the woman that we discuss in this episode not only crosses cultural, territorial and social lines but in terms of fashion, she has quite a shoe collection to help her dance through all time.
Surely, you see why we picked this woman as our first fictional character?
Cinderella, the iconic persecuted heroine, began life as the oral tale of Rhodopis, in ancient Egypt about 500 BC. Given her nickname for the color her fair skinned cheeks turned in the desert sun, she was a Greek slave brought to Egypt in this rags to riches tale. Her special rose colored dance slippers were given to her by her Master, and spirited away by the god Horus, in the form of a falcon, to be deposited in the lap of Pharaoh, her future groom.
While there is no way to know exactly what her rose colored shoes looked like, this was what they were rocking in ancient Egypt.
Flip flops! So, in a way, all you brides who are telling your mothers you will be sporting thongs (the shoes!) can draw a connection to Cinderella! And what mother doesn’t want a Cinderella story for her daughter?
The next, and arguably, first written account of our fair damsel, is the Chinese folktale Yeh-Shen.
No fairy godmother for this tormented girl, in this version she wished upon the bones of her beloved bff… who happened to be a fish (NOW you get the Asian fish clue!) One of the golden slippers that she wore to the village festival takes a little tour, ends up with HER future husband…and you know the rest.
Heading from the T’ang Dynasty in China to France in the 1600’s, we chatted about the version that is most familiar to us, that of Charles Perrault. Perrault has a rather lengthy list of literary accomplishments—Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty, Little Tom Thumb, and of course, Cinderella.
La petite Pantoufle de Verre, The Little Glass Slipper includes the introduction of familiar elements- the fairy godmother, animal friends, and of course the epitome of impractical footwear- the glass slipper. Of course, since some things are nearer and dearer to us, we waxed poetic about the shoes. And about this website that gives a really great history of footwear. http://www.headoverheelshistory.com/
This is the image of Charles Perrault that made one of us swoon. Yes, there are less than purrrr worthy portraits of the man, but this one is all that is needed.
Back to history…..we discussed, compared and contrasted various versions of the tale across time and continent. Yes, you are right, we do not normally drop a lot of dates on you, but with this character we thought that knowing the dates of the versions that we discussed was as important as the country of origin. But hey, there is no test at the end, so it’s all good.
In the middle of all the chatter about the slasher vs. the sappy versions, we decided that there really is a Cinderella tale to suit anyone’s taste and heritage and a good chunk of them can be found here, at the site of Professor D.L. Ashliman http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/type0510a.html ( This is the one where you can just read one version after another)
And also, at The Cinderella Bibliography by Richard Peck http://www.lib.rochester.edu/camelot/cinder/cinintr.htm
We felt that no discussion about Cinderella would be complete without looking at Cinderella of film. And when we think ‘Cinderella movie’, we think the 1950 Disney version first. Billed as “A love story with music!” this version, so the story goes, was a make or break moment in the Disney history. We went from there to a compare and contrast of three Rogers and Hammerstein television versions- one each from the 1950’s, 1960’s and 1980’s. We wrapped things up trying to find value in other kiddie/teen versions that have made the rounds in recent years.
At this point in our shownotes we usually discuss the death of the woman we had come to understand better. But, with this woman, we can’t. She won’t die. Ok, yeah, technically she never lived—but her story, her character, her struggles, her overcoming hardships while maintaining her inner strength lives in all of us. Who would want that to die?
Time Traveling With The History Chicks
Our main mission is to track historical figures through time, spark an interest, and to encourage you to start your own travels with the women we spotlight. Following this bouncing princess to modern day was not that hard, it was just a very lengthy journey. Versions of Cinderella appear in theater, ballet, literature and film-all over the globe, and throughout much of recorded time.
One side trip of our journey led us to folkstory.com. Here,http://www.folkstory.com/articles/cinderella.html , Jonathan Young uses a review of the 1998 movie, Ever After (starring Drew Barrymore and Angelica Houston), as a psychological profile, and insights into characters, of the Cinderella story.
We both get giddy when we talk about Sur la Lune. http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/cinderella/history.html Not only are there fairy tales aplenty, but analysis, annotated versions, similar tales across cultures, but yes! A message board. Some really interesting discussions about fairy and folk tales await you! (and there is a gift shop. Oh yeah!).
The Cinderella tale will live on, as it has all this time.
In literature, art, music and film:
We all have our favorites, what’s yours?
As always, music for our podcast comes courtesy of Music Alley. Visit them at music.mevio.com.