Image and Symbol in Cinderella


An interesting image in the Cinderella stories to me was the image of
the antagonist sending a "hunter to kill and recover her lungs and liver
for dinner" (103). This image is recurring, not only in the Cinderella
stories, but in the Snow White stories as well. The antagonist, in this
case the "wicked" stepmother, is looking for evidence of her
stepdaughter's murder. The fact that she wants to ingest parts of her
stepdaughter's remains suggests that by consuming these pieces of the
girl, the stepmother is thereby internalizing Cinderella's (or Snow
White's) power, becoming one with it.

A prominent symbolic element in the Cinderella stories is the
protagonist's finding of aid in the natural world. From animals helping
with ridiculous tasks (Grimm's "Cinderella"), gifts from a dead fish
("Yeh-hsien"), to being dressed up in the hides of animals
("Donkeyskin", "Catskin", and "The Princess in the Suit of Leather"),
the protagonists have a peace with nature that allows it to help the
with their tasks and away from harm. In "Catskin," "Donkeyskin," and
"The Princess in the Suit of Leather" specifically, the Cinderella
character assumes the outward figure of an animal, dressed in their
hides, to keep from being recognized.

Tatar, M. (1999). The Classic Fairy Tales. New York: W. W. Norton
& Co.

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