The Dark Side of Disney

The Dark Side of Cinderella

Disney is known for its colorful movies with music and happy endings, but they took many of their stories from other authors. The stories that we know so well from Disney were not originally happy stories. I decided to read some of the original stories to see just how much Disney changed from the original storyline.

This will be a series, so I’ll be adding more posts to this series as I finish them. I thought that I would start with one of the most popular Disney movies and go from there.

A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes

Cinderella was my favorite Disney movie growing up. I remember watching it on VHS over and over again. I loved the idea of a girl having a fairy godmother and magically becoming a princess for a night. The storyline was cute and was accompanied by singing animals and a happy ending.

Disney’s Version

Cinderella’s father married her stepmother, giving her two stepsisters in the process. When Cinderella’s father died, Cinderella was left to live with her evil stepmother and her ugly stepsisters. She was treated like a maid and was expected to do all of the chores in the house.

One day, the prince announced that he would be having a ball and that all eligible maidens were invited. He would be looking for a wife at the ball. Cinderella asked if she could go, but her stepmother gave her a giant list of chores that she had to do to go. She finished them but didn’t have anything to wear.

Her singing animal friends surprised her with a gown that she could wear. When she tried to go to the ball with her stepmother and stepsisters, her stepsisters tore her dress to shreds, leaving her without something to wear again. Enter–Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother!

Fairy Godmother waves her magic wand, and Cinderella had a beautiful new gown and a horse-drawn carriage to take her to the ball. Cinderella only has one rule–leave before the clock strikes midnight because the magic will wear off.

At the ball, Cinderella and the Prince dance the whole night. They fall in love, but the clock strikes midnight, sending Cinderella running. She leaves a glass slipper behind, giving the prince the idea to try the glass on every maiden in the kingdom to find his princess. I never understood why he couldn’t recognize the woman he fell in love with, but alas, this was Disney’s version of the story.

The Prince goes all over the kingdom, trying the glass slipper on every woman. When the slipper doesn’t fit Cinderella’s stepsisters, and the Prince tries to let Cinderella try on the slipper, Stepmother breaks the shoe. Luckily, Cinderella still has the other slipper. They try it on, it fits, and they live happily ever after.

Other Versions

Disney’s 1950s version of Cinderella was one of the original ones done in the movie format; however, several versions have been made since then. You can read about the best and worst Cinderella movies because there are so many. The storyline is mostly the same, but they change little things and make a whole new movie.

There are so many versions to enjoy, but I was more interested in the original story that all of these movies were born from.

The Grimm Brother’s Version

In the Grimm Brother’s version of the story, Cinderella’s father doesn’t pass away. Instead, he allows the stepmother and stepsisters to torment poor Cinderella and even calls her “deformed” later in the story. The ball lasts three days, and instead of the magical godmother, Cinderella has a magical bird that grants her wishes. The bird visits a tree she planted by her mother’s grave. The tree grew from the tears she cried over the loss of her mother.

Cinderella outsmarts the prince the first two nights of the ball, and both nights her father wonders if it was her. On the third night, the prince lays a trap to try and keep Cinderella from running away. He spreads pitch on the stairs, which is how Cinderella ends up leaving her golden shoe behind. The prince tries the shoe on maidens in the land until he finds Cinderella’s stepsister.

The older sister couldn’t fit her big toe, so she cut it off to make it fit. The younger sister couldn’t fit her heal, so she cuts that off to fit her foot in the shoe. Both times, the prince is stopped by the magical bird and told that they are the wrong maiden. Last, the prince asks for the last daughter. Cinderella’s dad calls her “deformed,” and the stepmother says she’s too dirty to be seen. When the prince insists, she tries on the golden shoe. It fits perfectly, and the prince recognizes her face.

Cinderella and the Prince were married. When the two stepsisters came to the wedding, the birds pecked out one of each of their eyes. When the stepsisters were on their way out of the wedding, the birds finished the job leaving both stepsisters blind as punishment for torturing Cinderella all of those years.

History of Cinderella

When I started writing this post, I thought the Grimm Brothers’ version of Cinderella was the original story. However, different versions of the story date back thousands of years. Many different cultures have some version of the story, with a woman living in an unfortunate situation and having her luck turn around.

No one is sure where the story originates or what the first version looks like, but the popular storyline has been rewritten and changed in different countries around the world. In the United States, several versions of Cinderella have been made into movies.

Learn More

If you’re interested in more movies that were inspired by Cinderella, you can find those here. Here is the Grimm Brother’s version of the story that I read. If you want to know more about the origins of Cinderella, you can read about that here. Happy learning!