Lesson Plan

"Cinderella" Folk Tales: Variations in Character

The sixth illustration of the 1865 edition of Cinderella.
Photo caption

The sixth illustration of the 1865 edition of Cinderella.

Perhaps it's because each of us feels like the poor, downtrodden sibling at times. But whatever the reason, something about the Cinderella story resonates with its audience. Five hundred versions of the tale have been found in Europe alone; related tales are told in cultures all over the globe. In America as well, the classic tale, re-envisioned in print and other media, continues to be popular. What changes does the Cinderella story undergo when it's translated from one culture to another? What remains the same? Why do we love the character of Cinderella so much more than her own stepmother does?

Note: This lesson may be taught either as a stand-alone lesson or as a sequel to the complementary EDSITEment lesson Cinderella Folk Tales: Variations in Plot and Setting, which concentrates on variability of plot and setting among Cinderella tales.

Guiding Questions

How does a folk tale change when translated to another culture?

Learning Objectives

Discuss differences in the characteristics of the heroine (e.g., meek, assertive) in a variety of Cinderella tales

Explain and compare common characteristics of character, plot, and conflict resolution among variations of the Cinderella story

Name countries in which Cinderella variations are found.

Define the essential qualities of a Cinderella tale and cite specific examples for support from at least two variations.