The Perrault and Grimm’s Tellings of Cinderella

The Grimm Brothers version of Cinderella is much different from the Charles Perrault one that was made most famous as the basis of the Disney classic!    Of course it is true that both versions offer the same basic story.    An orphaned girl is left in the care of her wicked step-mother upon her father’s death (in the Perrault).    She is used as a servant by the step-mother and step-sisters (both).     Through her own kindness and determination she is able to persevere as they treat her abominably (both)!   One day it is announced that the Prince is holding a Ball in order to find himself a bride (both).    This leads to much planning on the part of the step-mother and sisters.    Cinderella will not be allowed to attend the Ball because she is a servant (even though her father had been the titled one to begin with).   Thanks to her Fairy Godmother (in the Perrault version) Cinderella is able to get dressed and attend the Ball in secret!    While there she is able to catch the eye of the Prince, who falls in love with her (both).    She must leave as the clock strikes midnight because the magic ends then (in the Perrault)!    The Prince spends the next days looking for her with her slipper, and of course finally finds her (even after the step-mother tried to hide Cinderella).

In the Grimm version there are several dark elements added.    One difference is that the Grimm version does not have a Fairy Godmother, instead pigeons and turtledoves help Cinderella to dress!    Sadly in the Grimm version Cinderella does not actually lose her father, her mother died, and her father remarried, but her father was complacent in the step-mother’s horrid treatment of Cinderella!     The Ball in the Grimm tale is a festival that lasts three days, and she is able to sneak to it each time, but lost her GOLDEN slipper at the final day!    That’s right it is a golden slipper in the Grimm version!    The step-sisters are determined to fit their too large feet into the slipper.    They are so determined that one of the sisters cuts off her toes, and the other cuts off her heel in order to fit!   At the end of the story the step-sisters get their eyes pecked out by birds at the Royal Wedding!  

Both tales show that acting through kindness and love you can overcome much of the ills done to you.    Cinderella truly gets blessed for all of her suffering by finding true love, and becoming a Princess!   The wicked step-sisters were punished when they tried to attend the wedding, by having their eyes pecked out by Cinderella’s trusty birds (as mentioned above)!

I hope that you have enjoyed my comparison and contrast of the Grimm and Perrault versions of the most famous of Romantic Fairytales!    Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Note on Image: The image at the top of the post is a painting of one of the step-sisters by Kamille Freske.    I found the image on via 

Further Reading/Watching

  • Cinderella by Charles Perrault
  • Cinderella by The Brother’s Grimm
  • Cinderella (1950)
  • Cinderella (2015)
  • Ever After: A Cinderella Story (1998)
  • Once Upon a Time (2011-2018)
  • Into the Woods (2014)