The Grim, Grimm Tale of Cinderella

We all know the story of Cinderella. She was the sweet, innocent girl who must live with an abusive step-mother and ugly step-sisters. Life is a living hell until her fairy godmother enables her to go to the king’s ball. At the shindig she meets the handsome prince who dances with her and falls in love with her. Then, when she makes a hasty departure and loses a glass slipper. The prince searches the kingdom for the girl whose foot would fit the shoe. He finds Cinderella, marries her and everyone lives happily ever after.

Somehow, everyday marriage life is never shown.

It’s a nice story except that is NOT what happened, at least not according to the Grimm Brothers whom I consider the authority on all fairy tales. Here is what the Brothers Grimm say really happened:

Cinderella’s mom did perish (fairy tale moms are usually good but tend to die and that’s when the trouble starts) but her father did not. He remarries after perhaps not waiting as long as a grieving husband should. And his new wife and step-daughters treat Cinderella in a beastly manner. They make the girl do all of the housework while they mock her. It is never explained why the father put up with their treatment of his daughter but fictional dads are usually wimps or dumb.

Cinderella was the first Telenovela protagonist.

One day the father is on his way to a fair and asks the girls what they want him to bring them. The step-daughters ask for beautiful dresses and jewels. Cinderella says, “Father, break off for me the first branch which knocks against your hat on your way home.” So he dutifully brings his step-daughters the treasures they coveted and gives Cinderella a f*#@ing stick.

Cinderella took the branch and planted it by her mother’s grave and every day watered it with her tears until it grew into a magic tree full of magic birds. Cinderella would sit under it and a bird would appear and give the girl whatever she wished for. She should have wished for a family that wasn’t full of psychopaths or a horse so she could get the hell out of there. But she didn’t.

Then one day the king decides to hold a three day festival and he invites all the young beautiful girls. The ugly ones had to stay home. Cinderella was invited as were the step-sisters who, like Cinderella, were actually quite hot. Although this seems like a strange way to get your son hitched, this occurred hundreds of years before Tinder and that is how they did things in fairy tales back then.

Or maybe the prince wasn’t exactly a hunk.

So the step-sisters went but Cinderella’s step-mother forbade her to go. Fairy tale step-mothers are all evil. So she went to the magic tree and poetically declared, “Shiver and quiver, little tree. Silver and gold throw down over me.” She got a gold and silver dress, which may or may not have been what she wanted but she put it on anyway and went to the ball.

At the gala, the prince danced with Cinderella falling madly in love with her. Later he walked his new love home to find out where she lived. Upon nearing her home she ran from the prince and hid in the pigeon-coop. Perhaps she realized that the prince wasn’t such a great catch since he apparently couldn’t get a date without the king’s help. The prince waited for Cinderella’s dad to arrive and told him that there was a girl hiding in the pigeon-coop. Despite thinking that it might be his daughter, the father knocked the building to pieces with an axe. However, by that time she was back by the hearth in her dirty Cinderella garb.

The second night was much the same. She danced all night with the prince who again declared his undying love even though he still didn’t know her name. This time she walked home while the prince stalked her to see exactly where she lived. To evade him this time, she ran off and climbed a tree. Upon hearing this the lunatic father cut the tree down without regard for his daughter’s safety. But by then she was gone.

On the third and final night of the festival, Cinderella once more danced the night away with the prince. She was definitely giving him mixed signals. This time the king’s son smeared pitch on the staircase to prevent another escape. The girl was able to get away but without the left shoe which remained stuck to the staircase.

The prince just couldn’t take a hint.

After prying the gold shoe from the staircase the prince proclaimed in mangled English: “No one shall be my wife but she whose foot this golden slipper fits.” Note, at this point it wasn’t clear whether she liked him or thought he was creepy for wanting to marry her after they had just met, for stalking her and then trying to stick her to the staircase.

Anyway, the king’s son took the shoe straight to Cinderella’s house as he pretty much knew where she lived. There the oldest step-daughter took the shoe into her room to try it on. It didn’t fit. So following her mother’s directions, she sliced off a toe. Even though blood was pouring out of the shoe, the prince rode away with her to get married. That was until some of Cinderella’s bird friends told the prince of the deception. The younger step-sister then tried a similar trick by cutting off her heel. The Brothers Grimm don’t mention how the step-sisters explained the fact that they didn’t have the other shoe. But the clueless prince was hoodwinked once more until the birds again squealed.

The prince then asked the father if he had any other daughters. He replied, “There is still a little stunted kitchen-wench which my late wife left behind but she cannot possibly be the bride.” Fairy tale fathers are the worst.

The prince insisted that the kitchen-wench (a.k.a Cinderella) try on the shoe and, of course, her foot slide in without any required mutilation. After the shoe fit, AND ONLY AFTER THE SHOE FIT, did the boneheaded prince recognize the woman he claimed to love. People in fairy tales are often really, really dumb.

Later, at the wedding, which the step-sisters attended (no doubt on crutches), Cinderella’s birds pecked their eyes out. It is not known if the attack on the step-sisters was orchestrated by Cinderella. Perhaps she wasn’t so innocent after all.
The newlyweds then lived happily ever after. And the prince always treated Cinderella like a princess as he knew that those damn birds were never far away.

We never get to see how “happily ever after” turns out.

That is the grim tale according to the Brothers Grimm. For the movie, Disney used a different version thus saving our kids from many, many nightmares.

John Wade, a frequent contributor to Unhinged Magazine, is a retired Chief Financial Officer who lives in Wildwood, Missouri.

You can read about John Wade’s article about how the sky is finally falling.

©2017, all rights reserved
published with permission of the author