Cinderella: Grimm Brothers

Cinderella (Ashputtel), The Hazel Tree and the Bird

A rich man’s wife fell ill and died. Before her death, She told her only daughter that she should always be good and pious, that God would always protect her, and that she would always be with her daughter.

The father took another wife who brought her two daughters to his house. They were beautiful but with evil hearts. They made life difficult for the poor girl and made her their kitchen maid.

She was made to do hard work from morning till night. She gets up before the sun is up to cook and wash. She had to carry water and make fires. Her two stepsisters laughed at her, and they tossed peas and lentils into the ashes for her to pick out. She slept in the ashes by the hearth, and because she looked dirty and dusty, she was called Cinderella from the word cinders.

Once her father went to the fair and asked his stepdaughters what he should bring back for them. They asked for dresses and jewelries but when Cinderella was asked, she wanted her father to break off the first twig that brushes against his hat on his way home.

Cinderella got a twig from a hazel bush when his father came home which she planted on her mother’s grave. Because of her situation, she cried a lot and her tears fell upon the plant and watered it. It grew and became a beautiful tree.

She went to the tree three times a day where she cried and prayed under it. A white bird also came to the tree every time she was there. Each time she made a wish, the bird gave it to her.

Ashputtell Illustration: An illustration from a 1914 printing of "Nursery and Household Tales" by the Brothers Grimm. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)
Ashputtell Illustration: An illustration from a 1914 printing of "Nursery and Household Tales" by the Brothers Grimm. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

The Festival and The Prince

The king of the land proclaimed a three-day festival where his son, the prince, must select his bride from among the invited young ladies. All the beautiful girls in the kingdom were invited to attend.

The stepsisters were to attend the festival at the king’s castle but Cinderella was not allowed to go so she went to her mother’s grave under the hazel tree and asked the tree to shake and quiver and to throw gold and silver down to her. The white bird threw a gold and silver dress down to Cinderella, and slippers embroidered with silk and silver. She put them on and went to the castle to attend the festival.

She looked beautiful in her gold and silver dress. Not even her stepmother and stepsisters recognized her. The Prince danced with her and would not dance with anyone else. They danced until night, and when she wanted to go home, the prince went along to escort her. She jumped into the pigeon coop to elude him.

The prince waited until Cinderella’s father came and told him that the girl jumped into the pigeon coop which was then broken apart but no one was inside because Cinderella was able to jump down from the back of the coop and ran to the hazel tree. She quickly removed her dress and wore her dirty clothes back. Her father thought it could be Cinderella but she was in the kitchen, lying in the ashes when they got home.

On the second day of the festival, Cinderella was left alone again, so she went to the hazel tree and asked the same thing from it. The bird threw down a more elaborate dress than the previous day. At the festival, the prince would not dance with anyone and would not allow anyone to dance with Cinderella.

When she left, the prince followed her to know where she lived. She ran away from the prince and into the garden behind the house where she climbed into the branches of a pear tree. The prince waited until her father came and he told him that the girl must have climbed the pear tree. The tree was cut down but no one was found in it. Again his father thought it could be Cinderella but when they came home, Cinderella was lying in the ashes as usual in her dirty clothes.

The same thing happened on the third day of the festival. She had on a most splendid and most magnificent dress, and her slippers were made of pure gold. The prince never danced with anyone and did not allow anyone to dance with her.

When Cinderella wanted to leave, the prince again tried to escort her home but she ran away so fast that the prince could not follow her. But the prince had the stairway smeared with pitch so she could not run away so quickly. When Cinderella ran down the stairs, her left slipper was stuck in the pitch and she had to leave it. The prince picked it up and the next morning, took the slipper to the house of Cinderella’s father and declared that the girl whose foot fits in the golden shoe would be his wife.

The Stepsisters and The Shoe

The two stepsisters were very happy to try on the shoe. The older one tried the shoe in her bedroom but she could not get her big toe into it. The mother tells her to cut off her toe and she did. She was able to force her foot into the shoe and the prince took her to be his wife and rode away.

As they passed the grave of Cinderella’s mother, two pigeons cried out that there’s blood in the shoe, the shoe is too tight, and the bride is not right.

The prince discovered the bleeding foot and returned the false bride home. The other sister tried on the shoe. She could get her toes into it but her heel was too large. Her mother tells her to cut a piece of her heel and she did. She forced her foot into the shoe and the prince took her as his bride. Again, when they passed the hazel tree, the two pigeons cried out that there’s blood in the shoe, the shoe is too tight, and the bride is not right.

The prince saw the bleeding foot and returned the false bride home. When he asked Cinderella’s father if he had another daughter, he replied that he had only a deformed little Cinderella from his first wife who could not possibly be the bride he was looking for.

When the prince asked for her, the stepmother said that Cinderella is much too dirty and she could not be seen but the prince insisted and they had to call Cinderella. She tried on the shoe which fitted her foot perfectly.

As she stood up and the prince looked into her face, he recognized her as the girl whom he had danced at the festival. He found his true bride.

The prince took Cinderella away to be his wife. When they passed the hazel tree, the two pigeons cried out that there’s no blood in the shoe, the shoe is not too tight, and the bride is right. Then they flew down and perched on Cinderella’s shoulders, one on the right and one on the left.

The two stepsisters came to Cinderella’s wedding to gain favor with her and share her good fortune. The pigeons pecked out their eyes to punish them with blindness for their wickedness.

Disneyfied Version

This version of the Grimm Brothers is different from the Disney version that we know today. The biggest difference is the absence of the fairy godmother who plays a huge role in the Disneyfied version. Of course, there is still magic in the Grimm version in the form of a wish-granting hazel tree and the white bird or the talking pigeons.

We don’t find a three-day festival in the Disney version, instead, it is a night of the ball at the palace. And the pure gold slippers become glass slippers in the modern version.

In the Grimm version, the father knows and tolerates the bad treatment done to Cinderella by his wife and her daughters. He calls her “deformed little Cinderella”.

Thankfully, we no longer find the toe-cutting and heel-slicing of the stepsisters in our Cinderella fairy tale today. And there are no pigeons pecking out their eyes to blind them.

Truly, the Grimm Brothers’ version has been cleaned up and sanitized to become child-friendly today.


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aesta1 profile image

aesta1 18 months ago from Ontario, Canada

Whatever version it is, the triumph of good over evil is still a moving story.

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