Robin Redbreast

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

Monday, June 13, 2011

#161 Cinderella (Grimm's Fairy Tales,1965; trans. Lucas, Crane, & Edwards)

Illustrated by Fritz Kradel.

Note: Contains violence. Once upon a time, "the wife of a rich man fell ill, and when she felt that she was nearing her end she called her only daughter to her bedside and said,'Dear child, continue devout and good. Then God will always help you, and I will look down upon you from heaven and watch over you." Then she died. The young girl cried, remembering her mother, and prayed every day. "When the winter came, the snow spread a white covering on the grave. And when the sun of spring had unveiled it again, the husband took another wife." This wife had two daughters of her own, and felt them superior to the gentleman's in every wife. The truth was that they were neither as clever, nor kind, nor beautiful as their stepsister. So they tormented her constantly, and soon "took away her pretty clothes and made her put on an old gray frock and gave her wooden clogs." They mocked her, even as they drove her to the roughest chores. The "girl was obliged to do hard work from morning to night, to get up at daybreak, carry water, light the fire, cook, and wash. They cruelly poured dried peas and lentils into the fireplace, forcing her to pick through the ashes to find them. And at night, when no more calls came for her labor, the only place for her to sink down and rest was on the warmth of the hearth. Nestled among the cinders, she awoke sooty and rumpled, so "they called her Cinderella." One day it occurred that her father needed to travel to market, and asked his three daughters what they would have him bring back. The stepdaughters answered immediately, saying, "Fine clothes." and "Pearls and jewels."  But Cinderella said, "Father, break off for me the first twig which brushes against your hat on the way home."  So the gentleman brought back these things, and distributed them among the young ladies, giving his own child a hazel stem. Then "Cinderella thanked him, and went to her mother's grave and planted the twig upon it. She wept so much that her tears fell and watered it, and it took root and became a fine tree." Three times a day she sat beneath the tree, praying, while the tears rolled down her face. And each time, a "little white bird came and perched upon the tree.  And when she uttered a wish, the little bird threw down to her what she had wished for." It happened that the King announced three days of feasting, to honor is son now come of age. The young man would choose a bride from all the finest maidens in the land, and these were invited to the dance. Then Cinderella's stepsisters called her and said,"Brush our hair and clean our shoes and fasten our buckles, for we are going to the feast at the King's palace." And when their stepsister cried and begged to be allowed to go as well, they said,"You, Cinderella? Why you are covered with dust and dirt.  You go to the festival? You have no clothes or shoes, and yet you want to go the ball." So fiercely did the girl lament that, at length, the woman threw a plate of lentils and peas into the cinders and declared that if she could sort them in two hours, she may go. So Cinderella went out into the garden and called, "Ye gentle doves, ye turtledoves, and all ye little birds under heaven, come and help me — 'The good into a dish to throw, The bad into your crops can go." So the white doves flew in, and then the turtledoves and then mourning doves and pigeons and sparrows and finches, and wrens, and all the rest followed. They each "gave a nod with their little heads, peck-peck-peck,and collected all the good beans into a dish." In less than one hour, Cinderella showed her work to her stepmother. But this one had played her false, and now declared, "You have no clothes and cannot dance. You will only be laughed at. " And with that, she dumped the dish back into the cinders.  Her own daughter added another and now the cruel woman said,"If you can pick out two whole dishes of lentils from the ashes in an hour, you shall go with us." And then she smirked, for she knew it could not be done. But Cinderella called for the birds to come, and they did, and "in less than an hour the lentils had been picked up and they had all flown away."  But this deceiver broke her word again, and left Cinderella there, alone. That's when she "went out to her mother's grave under  the hazel tree and cried,' Shiver and shake dear little tree, Gold and silver shower on me.' Then the bird threw down to her a gold and silver robe and a pair of slippers embroidered with silk and silver." And she went to the ball, and all eyes hovered over her, and the guests made assumption that she was "some foreign princess, so beautiful did she appear in her golden dress." And the Prince came to her, and stayed by her side, and when another asked for a dance with her said,"This is my partner."  When the music ended the maiden would go, but the Prince detained her, wanting to escort her, that he might know of what stock she came. "But she slipped out of his way and sprang into the pigeon house." The Prince asked Cinderella's father to chop the pigeon house to bits and this he did, but "there was no one inside." Her sisters found her later, "in her dirty clothes among the cinders, and a dismal oil lamp was burning in the chimney corner." She had returned the gown and slippers to the bird. The following evening, her stepmother, full of guile, again instructed the girl to pick legumes from the cinders, and again, left her stepdaughter alone. Once more Cinderella called for the bird to shower her with silver.  This time, it "threw down a still more gorgeous robe...everyone was astounded by her beauty." Once again, the prince defied any else to dance with her, saying, "She is my partner." And once again, he desired to escort her home but she slipped away home. He tried to follow but "there stood a fine big tree on which the most delicious pears hung.  She climbed up among the branches as nimbly as a squirrel, and the Prince could not make out what had become of her." So he waited for her father to come out and this man said to himself, "Can it be Cinderella?", and he chopped down the pear tree to discover her. But there was no one it it: Cinderella had jumped down and run to her mother's grave, and there left the fine frock and once more donned the gray rags. She was fast asleep among the cinders when her father found her. Now, for the third night in a row, preparations were made for the ball. This time, as soon as she was left alone, Cinderella ran to the hazel tree and chanted for the bird.  It threw down to her "a dress which was so magnificent that no on had ever seen the like before, and the slippers were entirely of gold." The festival guests were "speechless with astonishment" and the Prince kept this mysterious beauty jealously by his side. "When night fell, she wanted to leave but the Prince was more desirous than ever to accompany her, but she darted away from his so quickly that he could not keep up with her." This time, however, he had put a strategy into place. He had "caused the steps to be covered with cobbler's wax.  The consequence was, that as the maiden sprang down them, her left slipper remained sticking there." And the next day, he took that slipper to Cinderella's father and told him that the daughter whose foot it fit, would be his bride. So the eldest,  her mother beside her, tried it on. And when her large toe did not fit in the mother said,"Cut off the toe. When you are Queen you won't have to walk anymore." So she did, and then put the slipper on and went out to the Prince. He took her upon his saddle and rode for home — but as they passed the hazel tree, the little bird sang,"Prithee, look back, Prithee, look back, there's blood on the track. The shoe is too small; at home, the true bride is waiting thy call." So he took her home, and tried the other sister. But her heel would not fit.  Her mother said,"Cut a bit off your heel. When you are Queen you won't have to walk anymore." And the girl did this, and put on the shoe and went out to the Prince.  He was fooled and took her upon his horse. Yet when they passed the hazel tree, there were now two doves upon it.  They sang their bloody rhyme, and the Prince saw the red track behind him, and knew that he had been played false. Again he returned to Cinderella's house and demanded of her father whether there was one more daughter? And this self-called gentleman replied,"There is only a daughter of my late wife's, a puny, stunted drudge, but she cannot possibly be the bride." The Prince would not take no for an answer, so Cinderella was called, and she washed her face before she came. At once she took off her clunky clogs, "and put on the slipper, which fitted to a nicety." So the Prince recognized her, and declared his love for her. "The stepmother and the two sisters were dismayed and turned white with rage." Cinderella did not care, and rode on the horse's back with the prince. When they passed the hazel tree, the birds sang,"Prithee, look back, prithee, look back, no blood's on the track. The shoe's not too small, you carry the true bride home to your hall." And they were married and lived happily ever after. As for the stepsisters, an accident befell them while they watched the wedding procession. Two turtledoves pecked out their eyes. "And so for their wickedness and falseness, they were punished with blindness for the rest of their days."
Try: Grimm's Fairy Tales Illustrated (Heritage Press) Vol I or Grimms Fairy Tales Volume 2. Notes: This is from a 1965 edition of Grimm's Fairy Tales which I found at Out of the Closet for $1.00. I love the detail of the wooden clogs!
Montessori Connection: Fine Arts/Embroidery OR Cooking/Lentils
1. Read this story and notice the role that embroidery plays. (The birds throw her embroidered shoes.)
2. Learn that to embroider means to sew fancy patterns onto cloth using pretty colored thread. 
1. Notice what Cinderella has to do with lentils.
2. Learn that lentils are small, flat beans.