Robin Redbreast

Robin Redbreast
Birds can represent the fluttering, darting thoughts of intuition. This is why little birds helped Cinderella help herself.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Cinderella #115 Cendrillon, ou La petite pantoufle de verre (Perrault, 1697,

Cendrillon or The Little Glass Slipper
Illustration from the
Puppet Storybook Cinderella
Grossett & Dunlap
Once upon a time, in France, there was a merchant who married for the second time a wife, "the proudest and most haughty woman you have ever seen."  These girls were exactly like their mother in all ways.  The merchant also had a daughter, and she was a model of "unparalleled goodness and sweetness of temper", a trait which she most certainly did not inherit from her father. Shortly after the wedding was celebrated, the merchant went on a voyage.  In his absence, the stepmother put his daughter to work at the meanest tasks.  "The poor girl bore all patiently and dared not tell her father, who would have rattled her off; for his wife governed him entirely." They made her work all day and at night, having nowhere else to sit, she set herself down among the cinders.  Because of this, she was "commonly called Cinderwench; but the youngest, who was not so rude and uncivil as the eldest, called her Cinderella." Life went on for some time in this vein.  Then "it happened that the King's son gave a ball, and invited all persons of fashion to it.  Our young missus were also invited, for they cut a very grand figure among the quality."  They kept their young stepsister busy for two days with preparations.  "For my part,' said the eldest, 'I will wear my red velvet suit with French trimming.'  'And I,'said the youngest, 'shall have my usual petticoat; but then to make amends for that I will put on my gold-flowered manteau and my diamond stomacher, which is far from being the most ordinary one in the world."   Of course they made Cinderella help them with their makeup and their hair.  And "anyone but Cinderella would have dressed their heads awry, but she was very good and dressed them perfectly well.  They were almost two days without eating, so much were they transported with joy."  At long last they were ready, and the time for departure came.  Left alone, Cinderella released the tears she had held in for so long.  That's when she heard a voice saying,' Thou wishest thou couldst go to the ball; is it not so?' 'Well,' said her godmother, who was a fairy,' be but a good girl and I will contrive that thou shalt go.'  Then she took her into her chamber and said to her,' Run into the garden, and bring me a pumpkin."  So Cinderella did this. Next the fairy asked for and was given, " six mice, all alive, and ordered Cinderella to lift up the trap door, when, giving each mouse as it went out a little tap with her wand, the mouse was immediately turned into a fine horse." "There were three huge rats.  The fairy made choice of one of the three, which had the largest beard, and having touched him with her wand, turned him into a fat jolly coachman, who had the smartest whiskers eyes ever beheld."  So the coach was made, the clothing given, and Cinderella arrived at the ball.  Here " there was immediately a profound silence, they left off dancing, and the violins ceased to play, so attentive was everyone to contemplate the singular beauties of the unknown newcomer....The king himself, old as he was, could not help watching her, and telling the Queen softly that it was a long time since he had seen such beauty."  Cinderella was received by the prince and then "went and sat down by her sisters, showing them a thousand civilities, giving them part of the oranges and citrons which the prince had presented her with, which very much surprised them for they did not know her.  Of course the prince would  dance with no one else, yet Cinderella fled at the stroke of midnight.  "Being got home, she ran to seek out her godmother, and, after having thanked her, she said she could not but heartily wish she might go next day to the ball because the King's son had desired her."  So the permission was given.  Thus it was that the taunting and torment, when it came with the arrival of her stepsisters, home from the ball, mattered but little to her.  The next night all was  repeated as before, and the fairy provided that Cinderella was "dressed more magnificently than before."  Well, again she fled, this time losing one her fabulous glass slippers.  When her stepsisters came in that night, they were full of the news that the prince was seeking the owner of a lost slipper, to be his bride. 
"What they said was very true; for a few days after, the King's son caused it to be proclaimed, by sound of trumpet, that he would marry her whose foot this slipper would just fit."  Soon, around came the royal page, with the slipper upon a velvet cushion.  The elder sister tried it on first, and then her younger sibling, "but in vain, for they could not effect it."  Now Cinderella came forward and asked for her turn, and "her sisters burst out laughing and began to banter her." But the gentleman with the slipper looked hard at Cinderella, and gave her a turn.  The shoe "fitted her as if it had been made of wax."  Oh, how surprised they all were, and that's when Cinderella drew out the mate.  Now " in came her godmother, who having touched with her wand Cinderella's clothes, made them richer and more magnificent than any of those she had before." She was taken to the prince, and "he thought her more charming than ever, and, a few days after, married her.  Cinderella, who was no less good than beautiful, gave her two sisters lodgings in the palace and that very same day, matched them with two great lords of the court." 
p. 140, Anthology of Children's Literature. 1948 Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.
Notes: Although Charles Perrault did not make up this story, he did fill in many details.  It is from this 1697 version of the tale that the classic elements come.  These are the fairy godmother, the glass slippers, the pumpkin coach, the rat and lizards as coachman and footmen, and the mice turned into horses. 
Montessori Connection: History/Europe/17th century
1. Read this story and understand that it was written ,in French, in 1697.
2. Lay out a blank timeline.
3. Mark one end of it 1600 and the other end 1700.
4. Mark off intervals of 25, 10, or 5 years.
5. Add a note about the publication of this story in 1697.
6. Add at least two other things that happened during the same decade. (Examples: 1692, Massachussetts, USA, Salem Witchcraft trials; 1694, England, death of Queen Mary II.