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Comparison of several documents dealing with the theme of fairy tales

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Par   •  28 Septembre 2023  •  Commentaire d'oeuvre  •  1 652 Mots (7 Pages)  •  104 Vues

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Good morning,

I am going to present two works that revisit, each in their own way an extremely popular tale, Cinderella.

The Cinderella story, which began as an oral tale, became popular under the pen of Charles Perrault. The tale was then revisited in the 1950’s by Disney Studios in a cartoon.

You already all know the story.

A young orphan girl, named Cinderella, is kept by her stepmother and stepsisters. She is mistreated and humiliated, until one day her fairy godmother allows her to use a charm to attend a ball given by a Prince and seduce him. But the charm disappears at the twelfth stroke of midnight, and she has to leave the ball in a hurry. The Prince manages to find her thanks to the glass slipper she left behind. And the tale ends with the traditional phrase: "they lived happily ever after".

This very popular tale has inspired many artists. And I wanted to present two works based on this tale:

- the first one is a poem, named Cinderella, from the book Revolting Rhymes, written in 1982 by the famous children’s author Roald Dahl.

- the second one is a photograph entitled Cinder from a 10-piece series, entitled Fallen Princesses, taken by the artist Dina Goldstein between 2007 and 2009.

We shall see how these documents, each in their own way, revisit the well-known fairy tale Cinderella.

The poem Cinderella, written by Roald Dahl, takes up the main components of the tale: the abused child who wants to go to the Palace Ball and the lost slipper. But from this moment, he deviates from the tale with a strong humorous tone. He imagines that the glass slipper, which has been lost, is replaced by the shoe of one of Cinderella's ugly sisters-in-law. The sister-in-law is for an instant the lucky one, but the prince refuses to marry her and cuts off her head. This prince is no longer charming: he turns out to be stupid, bloodthirsty, and wicked. Appalled by her prince's crime, Cinderella decides to marry a marmalade maker, with whom she will create a home filled with smiles and laughter and find happiness in simplicity.

The picture entitled Cinder is different. It is based on Disney's Cinderella, to imagine the continuation of the tale, after the famous phrase "they lived happily ever after". Here, Cinderella has married her Prince Charming, and her and her husband have been trying to have a baby for years. Cinder’s inability to conceive has been a major source of disappointment, frustration and even shame. It is the one thing she hasn’t succeeded at. What will happen if she fails to give birth to an heir? She nurtures a secret and an increasingly serious alcohol addiction. She finds a distant dive bar to drink away her worries.

The comparison of these two works is very interesting. It can be broken down into three main guidelines.

First guideline: in both cases, the artists based their works on a very popular old tale. They parody it and then invent a different work and deliver a current message, different from the one of the initial tale. The popularity of the tale enables them to highlight a strong message.

In Roald Dahl's case, the initial plot is respected: a young orphan girl, the magic of the fairy godmother, the ball, the hope of liberation thanks to Prince Charming. The poem has exactly the same title as the original tale as well as the same beginning: ‘in the dead of night, The Ugly Sisters, jewels and all, Departed for the Palace Ball, While darling little Cinderella was locked up in a slimy cellar (…)’. But everything changes after the ball. The prince appears to be a particularly mean and stupid man: ‘Off with her head! The Prince roared back. They chopped it off in one big whack. This pleased the Prince. He said, ‘She is prettier without her head’’. He is not even able to recognize Cinderella, whom he met the night before : he qualifies her as a ‘dirty mutt’.

Witnessing the Prince’s crimes, Cinderella realizes that she will never be happy with him, and that wealth does not necessarily mean happiness. She therefore renounces her marriage with the Prince to marry a simple man, with whom she will build a family full of laughter and happiness: ‘Cindy answered, ‘Oh kind Fairy, this time I shall be more wary(…) And they were happy ever after.’.

The photograph proposes a continuation of the tale, addressing the question: ‘What if Disney princesses did not live happily ever after?’. This question may seem quite relevant, when you see the beautiful princess Cinderella sitting in a rough bar, drowning her sorrow in a glass of beer, thinking about how her and her prince, now married, have been trying to have a baby for years, unsuccessfully. The picture, by Cinder’s empty gaze and alcohol addiction, are enough to depict the distress she feels. Moreover, the ‘Blue’ sign on the left wall also recalls sadness, if we think about the idiom ‘to feel blue’, which means being depressed.

The condition in which the princess is depicted here might participate in explaining the title Cinder : a fallen princess does not deserve to have a long and tuneful name, but only a nickname, which pulls her closer to a pauper.

Here, with this picture, we get away from the original tale, which emphasized jealousy between brothers and sisters, the mistreatment of orphans, and liberation and happiness through marriage.

Second guideline: parodying a tale does not prevent a great deal of freedom of tone.

Roald Dahl's tale is intended to make children laugh. It adopts a very familiar and accessible tone and entirely rests on humour and irony. For example, the characters are constantly derided: when Cinderella is dancing with the Prince, she ‘pressed herself


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