Changes of Morals in Cinderella Story Through Different Adaptations

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 2509 |

Pages: 6|

13 min read

Published: Jul 3, 2023

Words: 2509|Pages: 6|13 min read

Published: Jul 3, 2023

Table of contents

  1. Review of Various Adaptations of Cinderella Story
  2. Supporting Evidence
    Complicating Evidence №1
    Complicating Evidence №2
    Complicating Evidence №3
  3. So What? A Conclusion

When one first thinks of Cinderella and what it’s attempting to teach us, oftentimes kindness, gentleness, and humbleness are common starting points. However these morals, or lessons that the story wants to get across to us, change through different adaptations, sometimes into an unrecognizable lesson or portrayal of Cinderella story. In this summary essay we will explore how each adaptation puts its own spin on the moral of Cinderella, and guides the reader to wonder why these morals change through adaptations.

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Review of Various Adaptations of Cinderella Story

One of the most familiar adaptations to us is Perrault's Cinderella; or The Glass Slipper, in which Cinderella is portrayed as a kind, compassionate, loving character that emulates inner beauty; the moral we would typically think of, as she is kind to those who hurt her. However the given moral focuses on the fairy godmother’s assistance to Cinderella more than what should be the prominent lesson, her inner beauty.

Other familiar versions include Grimm’s Cinderella and Disney’s Cinderella both of which are fairly similar, give or take a few parts. In these versions Cinderella is once again portrayed as kind, loving, and compassionate, especially to those who made her life miserable like her stepmother and stepsisters. There is no stated moral in either, so the reader or watcher is left with their own impressions of the moral or lesson, one that usually consists of Cinderella’s inner beauty.

Perhaps a less familiar version is Basile’s Cat Cinderella, an earlier version of Cinderella in which the main character’s name is Zezolla. Zezolla was a cruel, revenge-wanting spin on Cinderella, as she killed her own stepmother and plotted to make her stepsisters jealous when she appeared at the ball. The moral of this story has to do with fate, and it makes the reader wonder how different versions of such a similar story could be so contrasting in the lessons they bring to the table.

Many of the morals from very similar stories are different, and did not include those of Cinderella’s kindness or inner beauty. I was interested to take a closer look at each story and see if this classic moral was still there, whether it was obvious or not. So, after considering these adaptations and their morals, I wondered if the common lesson of inner beauty and kindness even showed up in some versions of Cinderella.

To what extent do the lessons and morals we learn from Cinderella, especially those of inner beauty and kindness, change with each story or adaptation over time? Many of the lessons and morals we learn from Cinderella, especially those about her gentleness and kindness, change into a different moral or don’t show up at all through each adaptation.

Supporting Evidence

Basile’s Cat Cinderella is a bit of a different, darkerearlier version of Cinderella in which the moral is, “You must be mad to oppose the stars”ю This is saying that what’s going to happen will happen and you can’t really do anything about it. This moral has nothing to do with Cinderella’s character. It is true though, that in this particular version of Cinderella, Zezolla’s character is not to be desired. She killed her stepmother and made her stepsisters envious of her during the festival to get revenge on how they’d treated her before. Zezolla was a trickster and mischievous version of Cinderella; she does not emulate the kindness and gentleness of the Cinderella we know, and therefore the moral changed to be applicable to the story, instead writing about fate rather than her character.

Perrault’s Cinderella; or The Glass Slipper came after the Basile version and is closer to the version we know today. However the moral is a bit different, focusing less on the gentle character of Cinderella and more on her struggles and difficulties.

“Woman’s beauty is a treasure that we never cease to admire, but a sweet disposition exceeds all measure and is more dear than a precious gem’s fire. Now the fairy’s gift to Cinderella, according to the story, was what she taught the girl about love and glory, and she did it so well that Cinderella became queen. Beautiful ladies, it’s kindness more than dress that can win a man’s heart with greater success. In short, if you want to be blessed, the real fairy gift is graciousness.

Another moral: It’s undoubtedly a great advantage to have wit and a good deal of courage, or if you’re born with common sense and other worthwhile talents that heaven may discharge. But all of these may prove useless and you may indeed need others if you think you can have success without godfathers or godmothers”.

The first part of this moral mentions the importance of inner beauty, but considers the effect of the fairy godmother’s help on Cinderella’s character, which helped her become queen. While inner beauty and kindness are mentioned briefly, they are not regarded as the main moral simply because of how much they are written about. However, the second part of the moral takes a different turn and emphasizes the importance of not succeeding in anything without outside help, which is very different from the Basile moral or the one we know today- the one that is centered around one theme of personality and character, not that of needing help from others. It is true that the fairy godmother was of significant help to Cinderella in going to the ball, but it should be her kind, gentle, and humble nature that is the genuine moral of the story.

Complicating Evidence №1

The Grimm version of Cinderella is perhaps one of the most familiar versions to us, as the Disney animated film was based off of it. This version does not have a stated moral at the end of the story, but rather the moral is found within. The story emphasizes the importance of kindness and gentleness towards others even after they have betrayed you, as Cinderella was compassionate towards her stepsisters even after they treated her terribly. She never fought back but instead obeyed them, even though they were extremely cruel to her. This quotation describes how Cinderella’s stepsisters treated her and how she stayed strong through these trying experiences and did not fight her oppressors.

“They expected her to work hard there from morning till night. As a result, she had to get up before dawn, carry the water into the house, make the fire, cook, and wash. Besides this, her sisters did everything imaginable to cause her grief and make her look ridiculous…This is why she always looked so dusty and dirty and why they called her Cinderella”.

Cinderella’s sisters and family focused on her outer beauty and based her worth off of this. Because of this, they expected her to work day and night and treated her as less than them. And, when it was discovered that Cinderella was the bride of the prince, the stepsisters attempted to share in her experience (and then got their eyes plucked out). Cinderella did not talk back to them, question them, or seek revenge on them, even after the misery they’d put her through. So, while there is no stated moral in the Grimm version of Cinderella, the takeaway from the story is always to treat others with kindness, because one day your inner beauty will shine through.

Additionally, the Disney film Cinderella is based off of the Grimm version, hence why they are very similar. This version also has a moral to be conscious of how one treats others, like the Grimm version, and also to be kind because it’s what’s on the inside that really matters. The morals of the story resurface in different ways, and although there is more than one moral, many people step away remembering Cinderella’s gentle, kind character. This quotation is taken from, from an article where the writer is listing her biggest takeaways from re-watching Cinderella (Disney) as an adult. She writes about how Cinderella’s kindness is what carries her through the story, and it was one of the things about Cinderella that people remember most. “Others are instinctively drawn to Cinderella's kind demeanor, and it's the reason why her fairy godmother came to her aid so promptly — and perhaps part of the reason why she and the Prince fall in love so quickly and deeply”. The Disney film very clearly has this moral set up, as it is seen in her encounters with the fairy godmother, the various enchanted animals, and the prince. It is true there are other morals hidden in the film, but the most prominent is that of Cinderella’s kindness and inner beauty.

Though many of the lessons we have learned from Cinderella change over time, there are still lessons about her inner beauty and kindness that remain a timeless representation of her character through most adaptations of the story of Cinderella.

Complicating Evidence №2

In Basile’s Cat Cinderella Zezolla’s character was not very kindhearted and didn’t represent the genuine personality of Cinderella very well. Her arc and growth seemed to turn for the worse, where an authentic Cinderella would grow into her kindness over the course of the story. While the moral in this version was about fate and it did play a role in this story, Zezolla’s trickster nature towards her mother and sisters after they treated her badly showed that she lacked the true trait of inner beauty. At the festival, this quote was stated about Zezolla’s behavior, “Then she went and made her sisters’ mouths water”. Zezolla’s goal was to make her sisters jealous of who she had become, which is once again a trait a genuine Cinderella would not carry. Also, fate is not always the first lesson we take from Cinderella, and here there are limited options for the usual lesson about humbleness and gentleness because of Zezolla’s unkind character.

Also in Basile’s Cat Cinderella, Zezolla killed her own stepmother, which makes it even more difficult to understand how this version emulates the true moral behind Cinderella. Her character got into a lot of trouble, and also never forgave her stepsisters for what they’d done but instead turned against them. This quotation describes Zezolla’s plans to kill her stepmother, “After Zezolla heard this, every hour seemed like a thousand years, and then she carried out her teacher’s plans [to kill her stepmother] exactly as she had advised”. Zezolla was problematic, and far from the Cinderella we know, and it is difficult to find a constant moral of kindness gentleness within her story. Perhaps this is why this version isn't brought up as much, because the lessons we take from this story are far from timeless or beneficial in our own lives.

Although inner beauty and gentlenesskindness have remained constant morals in some Cinderella stories, others take a different turn and stray from the lessons we usually find and offer different insight about Cinderella’s character, how we should view her, and what we should learn.

Complicating Evidence №3

Although the moral in Basile’s Cat Cinderella is “you must be mad to oppose the stars” and this represents fate, there are other parts of the story that hint at the lessons we take today from Cinderella, even if they aren’t seen upon first glance. When first looking at Zezolla’s character, kindness and inner beauty are not extremely evident, but the way other characters view her suggest that there may be more than what meets the eye to this story. This quotation describes how Zezolla’s father thought she could never be the King’s bride because of her looks, but after the King saw her he knew she was the one, because of her personality. “Then the prince said, ‘I have a daughter, but she always looks after the hearth because she is worthless and a disgrace’… ‘Well, it will be my pleasure,’ said the king, ‘to have her first on my list’... As soon as the King saw her, he had the impression that she was the one he desired, but he did not let her know how he felt”. This quote gets at the theme and lesson that inner beauty is more important than outer beauty, which the prince takes note of. Zezolla’s family pushed her away because of her looks, yet the King recognized her as his bride through something other than looks because he put those aside when he agreed to try the shoe on her. Even though the “moral” is about fate, the real lesson we all know is still hidden within the story, even if it's not noticeable right away. Zezolla’s character itself was tricky, but the moral and lesson behind it is still there, even though she was a troubled person.

In Perrault’s Cinderella; or The Glass Slipper, most of the moral focuses on the necessity of outside help in order to be successful in life, which isn’t always the first lesson one would take from Cinderella. However, a deeper look into the story provides this quote, where Cinderella’s kindness shines through, rather than her assistance from the fairy godmother. “Cinderella raised embraced them, saying she forgave them with all her heart…Cinderella who was as kind as she was beautiful, gave her sisters apartments in the palace and had them married the very same day to two great noblemen of the court” (pg. 453). This shows Cinderella’s gentle humbleness towards her sisters, even after everything they did to her. She experienced a great amount of difficulty in her life, and she faced it with strength and hope. This strength and hope carried with her through her actions towards her stepsisters and family, making her inner beauty, gentleness, and kindness the most prominent lesson from the story. Of course there are other morals to take from Cinderella, but those about her character and personality should be our most cherished. This quote was also the final paragraph in the story, which further illustrates the fact that inner beauty is what mattered most, even if the moral says otherwise.

Although some smaller lessons and morals from Cinderella have changed through each adaptation, the overall lesson of kindness and inner beauty remains in the story, even if one has to look closer to find it.

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So What? A Conclusion

This essay could be helpful to anyone who has wondered about the lesson of inner beauty and kindness that we take from the beloved Cinderella story and what it looks like in different versions. Specifically, where and how it can be found in the story, even when it is not noticeable at first. In a larger context, this essay offers insight on how Cinderella as a story has developed over time, and how we come to understand it differently through each adaptation. Although various versions have changed bits and pieces in the plot or in Cinderella’s character, the storyline itself has stayed relatively the same, providing us with easier ways to judge Cinderella’s heart and personality as laid out for us in the narrative. A step further in scholarship would be to look at the morals in other Cinderella adaptations, perhaps more movies, books, or short stories, and analyze how they are represented in the version and how they compare to the classic moral of inner beauty and kindness.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

Changes of Morals in Cinderella Story Through Different Adaptations. (2023, July 03). GradesFixer. Retrieved March 1, 2024, from
“Changes of Morals in Cinderella Story Through Different Adaptations.” GradesFixer, 03 Jul. 2023,
Changes of Morals in Cinderella Story Through Different Adaptations. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 1 Mar. 2024].
Changes of Morals in Cinderella Story Through Different Adaptations [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2023 Jul 03 [cited 2024 Mar 1]. Available from:
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