FISH, GOURDS, AND GLASS SLIPPERS: HOW DIFFERENT CULTURES TELL THE STORY OF CINDERELLA
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Stories, especially stories aimed at children, have been used as a tool for socialization in many cultures across time. Fairy tales in particular help disseminate and reinforce social norms and ideas to members of a given culture. Cinderella is one of the most common fairy tales with a version found in nearly every culture around the world. This thesis focuses on six versions from different regions: France, Persia, Mexico, China, West Africa, and pre-colonial North America. By using four basic shared story themes as lenses – the heroine’s relationship with her family, the heroine’s benefactor, the heroine’s test to prove she is worthy, and the heroine’s inherent inner and outer goodness – specific details in each story reveal what is valued by each culture. Despite having the same basic plot structure, these different versions could not survive in a culture other than the one in which they originated because of the social values found in the details. In their own culture, however, these stories impart social norms and values onto younger members who traditionally have internalized these lessons to reiterate them in their own retellings of the story.