Cinderella & Rapunzel Part II
The Dark Origins Behind Disney's Most Beloved Fairy Tales Part II: 'Cinderella & Rapunzel'
By: Domonique Cox-Salberg
Cinderella: The Brothers Grimm
No glass slipper. No fairy godmother. Still, there is magic. Aschenputtel (“Cinderella”) by the Brothers Grimm is one of the most well-known recorded versions of the universal story, just much more intense than Disney’s and past accounts. It begins with a wealthy gentleman and his dying wife. She passes, and he remarries a woman with two older daughters. They are beautiful, but their hearts are cruel and wicked; forcing the Cinderella-like girl to wear rags by stealing her fine jewels and clothing. Aschenputtel is the name they give her meaning “Ashfool”.
One day before their father takes a trip, he asks each girl what gifts they would like; the stepsisters ask for clothing and jewels while Ashenputtel ask for a hazel twig for which later grows into a glowing hazel tree from her tears and wishes for a better circumstance. Every time she wishes, the white bird that always visits the tree, throws down to her what she wishes for. Time passes, and the ball comes in which all the beautiful maidens in the land are invited so the prince can select one of them to be his bride. Aschenputtel begs to attend but is denied by her stepmother for not having a proper gown.
She persists and is given an impossible task for an opportunity to go. Ashenputtel completes it by singing a certain chant, which brings in doves to assist. The stepmother ignores she earned her chance to go and leaves the crying Ashenputtel behind. Retreating to the graveyard, the girl asks to be clothes in silver and gold; the tree grants her every wish.
Quick jump to the following sections:
The Gruesome Original Cinderella Ending
The girl shows up to the ball three times with the same outcome: The prince dances with her the whole time, and by sunset she leaves. Enamored by the beautiful mystery woman, the prince begins a search for the maiden throughout the entire land. This prompts the stepmother to advise her daughter to cut off their toes in order to fit the slipper. Two doves from heaven then whisper in the prince’s ear that blood drips from her foot; appalled by her treachery he goes back again and tries the slipper on the other sister.
The second sister ops for cutting off part of her heel to fit he slipper. The outcome is repeated. The prince is then told the family keeps a kitchen-maid in the house resulting in the prince finally reuniting with the girl. They marry, and the sisters show up to the wedding attempting to get in their stepsister’s good graces. The doves see this and fly down and strike the two stepsisters’ eyes one in the left and the other in the right. Once the ceremony is over, the dove’s swoop in to strike the remaining eyes of the two evil sisters blind, a punishment for the rest of their lives.
Although not as physically disturbing as Cinderella, Rapunzel has its fair share of darkness. It begins with a man and a woman that wish desperately for a child. These people had a little window at the back of their house for which a beautiful garden could be seen, full of flowers and herbs. It was, however, surrounded by a high wall and belonged to an enchantress who had great power and was dreaded by the world. And so, no one dared to go into it. As the days went on, the wife longed to try the beautiful rampion—Rapunzel, which is a Eurasian plant of the bellflower family. Some kinds have roots that can be eaten in salads.
The husband, aware of how miserable she is, devises a plan to pick his wife some rampion in the night. Once fetched and enjoyed, the wife craves more for which he visits a second time. To his apprehension, he was met with anger from the enchantress for stealing her rampion and insist he should suffer for it. Pleading and expressing why he had to do it out of necessity, the enchantress bargains with him and says they can have all the rampion they want under one condition: he must give his first child to her. She insists it shall be well treated and cared for like a mother. In this terror, the man consents to everything.
Then born, the enchantress appears to take the child and names her, Rapunzel. Once the young girl turns 12, the enchantress locks her into a tower. It had neither stairs nor door, but only a little window at the top. When the enchantress needed to enter, she would call out,
Let down your hair!”
Her hair is magnificently long, and fine as spun gold. The enchantress uses it as a ladder to climb the tower each visit. Times passes and one day while Rapunzel is singing, the kings son rode through the forest and passed by the tower to only be struck by her beautiful voice. Returning often with a desire to enter the tower, the prince passes one day and watches how the enchantress enters and waits to do so himself. Once he enters, Rapunzel is initially frightened, but eventually calms down enough for the prince to ask her hand in marriage, for which she though he is young, handsome, and will love he more than the old dame Gothel does. She accepts.
They then conceive a plan to escape together, in which she tells the prince to gather as much silk as possible to weave a ladder every time he visits when Gothel is away. Days later, Rapunzel accidentally lets it be known a prince visits, angering Gothel ad provoking her to cut off Rapunzel’s golden locks and took her to a desert where she had to live in great grief and misery. She then tricks the prince when he visits and leaves the hair out for him to climb. Stunned by her presence, Gothel gladly informs the prince he will never see her again. In pain, he leapt off of the tower attempting suicide, but escapes with his life and thorns in his eyes from landing in a bush.
Years pass of him roaming the land, he finally comes across the dessert where Rapunzel, with two twins, a boy and a girl, lived in wretchedness. Embracing one another, Rapunzel cries and wets his eyes clearing them again. With clear vision once more, the prince leads his family to his kingdom, where they were joyfully received, and they all lived happy and contented.
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FILM & BOOK
The Little Mermaid (1837)
Pied Piper of Hamelin (1842)
Aschenputtel (“Cinderella”) (1812)
Snow White (1812)
The Frog Prince (1812)
The Little Mermaid (1989)
Peter Pan (1953)
Snow White (1937)
The Princess and the Frog (2009)