Cinderella is one of the most popular and imitated fairytales ever created. There have been over seven hundred versions of the classic Cinderella tale written spanning from ninth century China to contemporary America. The two most basic and popular classic versions include the Charles Perrault, "Cinderella or The Little Glass Slipper" and the German variant, "Assenputtel" collected by the Grimm brothers (Heiner). The Cinderella tale framework has been translated into contemporary cinema and can be paralleled in the film Pretty Woman directed by Garry Marshall.
This film starring Richard Gere and Julia Roberts exemplifies how the Cinderella genre is everlasting and can constantly be reinvented throughout time. The classic Cinderella tales are derived from all different parts of the globe; therefore the variations are embodied throughout the modern day version. Each variant displays its own individuality that alters the audiences perception as well as creates new twists to the Propp's classic fairytale outline: under distressed girl meets boy; they fall in love; happily ever after story. The unique nature of the tale permits manipulation into many distinct versions without changing the original format.
This proves that a classic idea can never die; rather it can be formatted to appeal to new audiences that span cultures and time. The Cinderella concept can and has been reinvented to warm the hearts of past, present, and future generations. Cinderella is created under numerous names such as Cinderella, Ashiepattle, and Popelutschka. Overall the various renditions of the story have remained true the same relative formula. There are four primary aspects to the framework of the Cinderella tale that remain relatively constant no matter the rendition that is being narrated. Aarne- Thompson defines the five structural features as the persecuted heroine, magic help, meeting the prince, proof of identity, and marriage to the prince.
All readers can distinguish these characteristics in different combinations of the Cinderella variants. The comparative aspects of the tale can be arranged in variation, but each of Thompson's elements is clearly defined in most adaptations (Anderson 24-25). The persecuted heroine undergoes hardship allowing the audience to sympathize with her. No matter the version of the story, Cinderella is always portrayed as an under appreciated individual. Significant characters control her life and behave toward her in inappropriate ways. These maltreatment variables include abuse by her stepmother and stepsisters, forced to dress in ragged clothing, escaping her father who wants to marry her, and / or is to be killed by a servant (Anderson, 24).
The Brothers Grimm Cinderella variation states, "They took away her beautiful clothes, dressed her in an old gray smock, and gave her wooden shoes... They expected her to work hard there from morning till night. She had to get up before dawn, carry the water into the house, make the fire, cook, and wash". The treatment of Cinderella permits the audience to be sympathetic of her condition especially because she is a "good and pious" individual (Grimm, 93). Cinderella's poor treatment is also exemplified in the Perrault version. "It was she who had to clean the plates and the stairs, and sweep out the rooms of the mistress of the house and her daughters" (Perrault, 58).
Cinderella's treatment by the characters that surround her drive the tale creating an illusion that those whose situations may seen hopeless can be transformed into successful individuals if they are brave enough to follow their dreams. The magic help component takes on a variety of forms depending upon the culture or version being discussed. The magical assistance creates a fantasy element in the tale that defines the Cinderella epic. Children who are told the tale can superimpose themselves into the story because of a child's nature to be drawn to fantastical heroes.
Various magical aides in the framework of the story come in the form of Cinderella's dead mother, a tree by her mother's grave, a supernatural being, birds, a goat, a sheep, or a cow (Anderson, 25). These entities serve as turning points in the story because they permit Cinderella to rise from her current under appreciated position to an individual capable of having a noble figure fall in love with her. A hazel tree that Cinderella plants by her mother's grave embodies the Grimm version magic elements. When Cinderella desires to attend the royal three-day festival she goes to her mother's grave to be transformed.
"Shake and wobble, little tree! Let gold and silver fall all over me" (Grimm, 96) Most children can relate to Cinderella because at one point or another have wished that a magical assistant would come to support them. The Perrault interpretation incorporates a magical fairy godmother. "Her godmother merely touched her with her wand, and on the instant her clothes were changed into garments of gold and silver cloth, bedecked with jewels" (Perrault, 63).
The universal dream of a magical entity solving all problems affords children the ability to feel empowered because magical charms give children something to dedicate imagination and creativity towards. Meeting the prince is an element of the tale that is crucial to the "happily ever after" Cinderella conclusion. Cinderella is destined to meet the prince of her dreams. During this encounter variations in tales often occur such as: dancing with him while he attempts in vain to keep her, being seen by him in church, hinting to him the abuse that she has endured as a servant, or being caught in beautiful cloths in her room or church. These events lead to Cinderella needing to prove her true identity (Anderson, 25). This element sets up and creates the illusion that enduring hardship ultimately leads to happiness.
The Brothers Grimm traditional tale involves Cinderella encountering the prince three times. During these meetings the prince becomes infatuated with Cinderella refusing to spend time with anyone other then her. "Now, the prince approached Cinderella, took her by the hand, and danced with her. Indeed, he would not dance with anyone else and would not let go of her hand" (Grimm, 96). The universal nature of Cinderella revolves around the fantastical nature of the tale and how readers subconsciously dream of being rescued from the hardships in life and dancing with a prince. The Perrault story reveals Cinderella meeting the prince on two separate occasions.
The first meeting takes place when, "The king's son, when told of the arrival of a great princess whom nobody knew, went forth to receive her" (Perrault, 63). Little girls are programmed to desire meeting their handsome prince in the fashion that Cinderella meets hers. The framework of the any version of the Cinderella tale involves Cinderella proving her identity to the prince, her family, as well as the entire involved community. In proving her identity Cinderella is either discovered through the slipper test (where she must fit her foot into her lost slipper), the ring test (where she throws a ring into the princes drink or bakes it into his bread), or the apple test (where she alone is able to pluck an apple that is desired by the prince) (Anderson, 25). These objectives are met with constant adversity but always are overcome. Cinderella's character is developed in these scenes because she must prove her individual strength in the eye of harsh conditions.
Both the Brothers Grimm and the Perrault adaptations handle Cinderella's identity by the slipper test. The Grimm version states, "No one else shall be my wife but the maiden whose foot fits this golden shoe" (Grimm, 97). Similarly, the Perrault translation incorporates the prince fawning over the owner of the lost shoe. "A few days later, the king's son caused a proclamation to be made by trumpeters, that he would take for wife the owner of the foot which the slipper would fit" (Perrault, 66). The similarities of these accounts allow the many stories of Cinderella to be different, yet contain the comparable attributes. Audiences applaud the prince and Cinderella's marriage at the conclusion of the story.
This ending completes the happy ending that is notorious in the fairytale genre. The Grimm and Perrault versions consummate the relationship of Cinderella and her prince in marriage. In the Grimm tale the, "prince took Cinderella on his horse and rode away with her" (Grimm, 99). The Perrault asserts that the prince, "found her more beautiful than ever, and was married to her a few days afterwards" (Perrault, 68). The completion of the tale permits children to believe in happiness. These morals are important in the growing up process that occurs in the mind of an impressionable young child.
Pretty Woman is a film written by J.F. Lawton that introduced the Cinderella inspired genre to a new audience and recreated the classic tale for a new pop culture inspired generation. Pretty Woman is a story chronicles Edward who has bought and paid for virtually every relationship in his adult life; he treats everyone around him like an employee. While in LA for a week, he hires Vivian to be his "date" for a series of business functions, including a fancy dinner and a polo match. Out of the bargain, she gets $3000 cash, a makeover, new clothes and a crash course in what fork to use. Unavoidably, they both get more than they bargained for because they fall in love.
What makes Cinderella a remarkable story is that its foundation can be applied to modern day characters and motivations. Vivian is the obvious Cinderella heroine and her role is prescribed by the Perrault inspired Cinderella adaptation. Edward is the less likely protagonist of the tale, but still is able to embody the archetypical noble and chivalrous male "prince". The Pretty Woman movie exemplifies the outline of the Cinderella tale as it applies to American modern entertainment. The structure of the Cinderella story has been adapted to modern day situations and is commonly used as a genre itself. The stereotypical "rags to riches" approach has overwhelmed the cinema of the 20th century.
In the 1920's Walt Disney recreated the Cinderella story by adapting the Brothers Grimm edition to animation (Zines, 89). This film was the beginning of the Cinderella adaptation phenomenon. Since then the story has been manipulated to encompass modern day themes and values. Pretty Woman was presented to audiences in 1990 and exemplifies how the framework of the Cinderella tale is told to modern day adaptation. Pretty Woman remains faithful to the Aarne- Thompson structure of the Cinderella story but its unique perception is extremely divergent of the classic replication of the tale. Vivian Ward is what Aarne- Thompson would describe as the persecuted heroine.
She is a Hollywood Boulevard prostitute who is constantly concerned with paying her rent, avoiding the controlling nature of a pimp, and keeping herself safe is the grimy world of selling yourself for money. Vivian is not the typical prostitute; rather she is a prideful person who thrives on self-proclaimed rules that one would not necessarily associate with an individual who is in her line of work. Vivian:" What do you want?" Edward: "What do you do?" Vivian: "Everything. But I don't kiss on the mouth". By controlling the sexual nature of her prostitution Vivian is freeing herself from the prostitute stereotype and controlling a small aspect of her chaotic life. Although she strives to control her sexual encounters, Vivian is worn-down and abused by her line of work.
The nature of Vivian's lifestyle leads audiences to sympathize with her condition, which also contributes to her persecuted heroine character image. Bernard, the Beverly Hills Hotel manager, affords Vivian's magical help. Although Bernard does not have magical powers literally, he assists Vivian in preparing for her experiences in the lives of the rich and powerful (royal court). Bernard's magic is in the form of valuable advice in terms of manners and clothing selection.
Without his assistance, Vivian would be unable to transform herself into a suitable "date" to accompany (prince) Richard on his various outings. Bernard gives Vivian the confidence and means to present herself as a beautiful wealthy Beverly Hills socialite. Although Bernard does not turn a pumpkin into a golden stagecoach, he does hold a significant amount of power within the Hotel and the glamorous clothing stores on Rodeo Drive. Bernard serves as the fairy godmother figure and uses his experience and knowledge to prepare Vivian for the "royal ball" escapades she will encounter.
The relationship that Bernard and Vivian maintain is one of great mutual admiration and respect. The order of the Aarne- Thompson model is changed in Pretty Woman because the third occurrence, the meeting of the prince happens first in the film. Edward and Vivian meet under strange circumstances that would not be considered fairytale like. Instead their meeting is the catalyst for future interactions that are associated with the fantasy genre.
Richard and Vivian's first meeting under Cinderella- like conditions occurs when they meet before a business dinner between Richard and the CEO's of the company he is taking over. Vivian: "You " re late!" Edward: "You " re stunning!" Vivian: "You " re forgiven!" The magical sparks illuminate the scream while watching Edward and Vivian's first meeting after Vivian has undergone her Beverly Hills makeover. Similar to how Cinderella is gawked at by the royal court, everyone who encounters Vivian is instantly drawn to her beauty. The Cinderella slipper test is incorporated in Pretty Woman in the form of a diamond necklace that Richard gives Vivian to wear to the opera. This necklace is a symbol of Richard's affinity towards Vivian. Although she does not loose the necklace like Cinderella looses the glass slipper, Richard realizes that he loves Vivian when he returns the loaded necklace to Bernard at the hotel concierge.
"It must be difficult to let go of something so beautiful... You know Darryl also drove Miss Vivian home yesterday". Bernard says this as a suggestion to Richard reminding him of what he is letting go of, not the necklace, but Vivian. Conversely to Cinderella's prince frantically searching for the lady whose foot fits into the lost glass slipper, Richard goes after Vivian once he realizes that no one will "fit" the perfection of the necklace like Vivian "fits" into his life.
The last piece of the Aarne- Thompson framework involves the marriage of Cinderella to the prince. In Pretty Woman, Vivian and Richard do not get married; by they do proclaim their love to one another when Richard comes to "rescue" Vivian. Richard's white limousine replaces the prince's white horse, but the overall fairytale romance factor still exists. Edward: "Vivian! Vivian!
Princess Vivian, come down! It had to be the top floor, right?" Vivian: "It's the best!" Edward: "All right, I'm coming up."So what happened after he climbed up the tower and rescued her?" Vivian: "She rescues him right back". The fairytale characteristic is incorporated in this scene and gives the audience the implication that the couple will live "happily ever after". The contemporary feature of this happy ending is Vivian's affirmation of equal power between men and women. By "rescuing" Richard; the male domination over women stereotype is removed and the equal distribution of power that has evolved though time is inserted. Throughout the film homage is paid to the classic fairytale genre.
It is within these lines that the film captures the attention of its adult viewers childlike addicted to fantasy side. Vivian says "I want the fairytale". In admitting this she is stating what the classic Cinderella tale has done to her psyche. Every little girl who has ever been read the Cinderella story dreams of finding her prince charming and fitting into her very own glass slipper. Vivian wants this very concept. This allusion perfectly describes the profound influence that Cinderella has had on children as well as adults.
Vivian does not want to just be Richard's Los Angeles "girlfriend"; she wants to be the princess similar to the dreams of Cinderella. While Cinderella dreams of escaping her servant like position in her stepmother's household, Vivian strives to get off of the streets and make something of her life. The filmmakers who created Pretty Woman were very aware of the Cinderella genre that they intended to recreate while making the movie. Throughout the film allusions to classic fairytales are incorporated to allow audiences to connect the influence of the classic with the present version.
Vivian: "When I was a little girl my Mamma used to lock me in the attic when I was bad, which was pretty often. And I would, I would pretend I was a Princess trapped in the tower by a wicked Queen. And then suddenly this Knight, on a white horse, with these colors flying, would come charging up and draw his sword, and I would wave. And he would climb up the tower and rescue me. But never in all the time that I had this dream did the Knight say to me, "Come on baby, I'll put you up in a great condo".
Vivian's fantasy references create enhanced meaning for the audience because it is common for children to use their imagination incorporating fairytale episodes. A reference to Cinderella is specifically used in Pretty Woman when Vivian questions Kit (a fellow prostitute and friend) her status as a hooker turned rich and famous eligible bachelor stealer. Vivian: "I just want to know who it works out for? You give me one example of somebody we know, that it happened for?" Kit: "You want me to name someone, to name someone? You want me to give you a name, or something?" Vivian: "Yes, I'd like a name". Kit: "Oh God!
The pressure, of a name... Cinder-fucking-rell a!" The commonness of the Cinderella tale in contemporary society is displayed in this situation because it is used as a generic term in describing any female / male situation where couples ultimately end up happy together. The Grimm and Perrault Cinderella adaptations include strong morals that are significant because they are meant to teach readers that good always triumphs over evil. The Brothers Grimm story has a harsh ending where Cinderella's stepsisters are punished for their treatment of Cinderella.
"When the bridal couple set out for the church, the oldest sister was on the right, the younger on the left. Suddenly the pigeons pecked out one eye from each of them. And as they came back from the church later on... The pigeons pecked out the other eye from each sister. Thus they were punished with blindness for the rest of their lives due to their wickedness and malice".
(Grimm, 99) The moral presented in this version is universal and can be interpreted by any individual reading the tale. The violent nature of this moral is meant to teach children to treat those around them well or else harsh punishment will follow. The moral of Perrault's Cinderella captures the essence of Pretty Woman. Perrault's moral portrays the idea that good people who are "exceptionally sweet and gentle nature" are triumphant and live happily ever after (Perrault, 58). "Beauty in a maid is an extraordinary treasure; One never tires of admiring it. But what we mean by graciousness Is beyond prince and still more precious.
It was this which her godmother gave Cinderella, Teaching her to become a Queen. Lasses, this is a better gift than looks so fair For winning over a heart successfully. Graciousness is the true gift of the Fairies. Without it, one can do nothing; With it, one can do all!" (Perrault, 70) Perrault's moral represents Vivian Ward's goodness and parallels her to Cinderella.
Vivian embodies the spirit of Perrault's moral set forth in his interpretation. Because she is pure of heart she will overcome hardship and marry the prince (Richard Lewis). The closing lines of the film can describe the moral set forth in Pretty Woman. "Welcome to Hollywood! What's your dream? Everybody comes here, this is Hollywood, land of dreams.
Some dreams come true, some don't - but keep on dreaming. This is Hollywood, always time to dream, so keep on dreaming!" These lines demonstrate the message that if a person dedicated themselves to their dreams then anything is possible. The similar nature of the different variations of the Cinderella theme exemplify how the tale has evolved throughout centuries and can be adapted because of its strong core message. The commonalities displayed between the structure of Cinderella and Pretty Woman is evident throughout both stories.
The classic nature of the story proves that Cinderella will remain an important part of people's lives for several centuries to come. The similarity of the Grimm and Perrault textual versions and the modern film version shows that the story can be used in many diverse ways and still derive a positive hopeful message.