Cinderella for the 20th Century: Gendering in Ever After

I have always been in love with fairy tales, not simply the ones given to us by Disney, but the traditional ones as well. The Classic Fairy Tales was my favorite text to read. I loved the juxtaposition of the different versions of the stories. It made me think of adaptations I had seen in movies – Cinderella especially. One adaptation that has always stuck with me is Ever After, a movie made in 1998. It is so memorable to me because the characters are far more vibrant than the traditional ones (though they are by no means highly complex characters). One of the key differences in the movie is that there is no fairy godmother, no sort of fantastical outside assistance at all. The Cinderella character – Danielle de Barbarac, is in control of her own fate. She is also a very different girl than the Cinderellas of the Perrault or the Grimm tales: she is highly intelligent, stubborn, and though she is subservient to her stepfamily for the most part, she has spirited outbursts in which she rails against their domination. I would like to explore the nature of the characters in relation to the time the movie was made, comparing them with those of the traditional tale and examining in particular their gendering. Some questions I would like to consider are:

 

1. How does the removal of magic in the story change Cinderella’s character and the story itself?

2. Does Danielle display the traits of a classic hero rather than simply being the protagonist?

3. Danielle identifies very closely with her father, and creates a noble persona for herself using her mother’s name. Is there an Electra complex being carried out?

 

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14 responses to “Cinderella for the 20th Century: Gendering in Ever After

  1. aeernst

    I absolutely love this movie, and I agree that it puts a very lively spin on the classic tale of Cinderella. I am really interested to see your position on the effect of the removal of magic in the story because that is something that I’ve really never considered before. To add another dimension to your paper, maybe you could consider:
    4) How does the movie differ from the tales of Cinderella in The Classic Fairy Tales, and what is the significance of these differences?

  2. smboehm

    I’ve never seen this movie, but now I really want to! I think your paper topic is fun and interesting, and I especially like that it’s something that you enjoy.

    5) Is the moral of the basis of the story Cinderella still portrayed as well as it is in the classic versions such as the Perrault or Grimm tales? What are the differences in it’s representation from the book to the movie?

  3. siegvald

    Since you said you wanted to explore the nature of the characters and their gendering, 6. does the fact that Danielle identifies with her father contribute to the “masculinization” of her role in the movie? How does this compare to the traditional heroine in classic Cinderella, dependent on a fairy godmother?

  4. I like how you are going to include another form of media, the film Ever After. I think you #1 is the most interesting, as the inclusion of magic within the Cinderella fairy tale is considered a vital aspect. However the film does an excellent job of re-telling the tale while conveying the same moral without the use of magic.
    #7 Everyone is addressing the differences between the two movies but I think it is crucial to compare them as well as contrast them. What are the common themes portrayed in each? Is this same moral portrayed? Does the type of media make a difference in the strength of the story presented?

  5. stperry1

    This is a great movie to use as a backdrop for the Classic Fairy Tales since it takes the original and spins it into a much more realistic version. I think the first question you asked is most important because it presents the most intense separation from the original. Although the movie may lack magic, Danielle de Barbarac still gets a great deal of help from the other characters in the movie.
    #8. How do these secondary characters contribute to the progression of the story and serve to replace the fairy godmother?

  6. vrosengrant20

    I especially like your question about the removal of magic in the movie and I think you can connect that to when the movie was made and how the portrayal of women in 1998 has changed since when the fairy tale was first made. You can also go into how the older versions of Cinderella wished to instill characteristics in women that are more frowned upon these days, like total subservience. You can further this by thinking of:
    9.) Does the movie Ever After have a moral and is that moral different from the one in the traditional tale?

  7. Comparing the versions of Cinderella form past to present should make for an interesting read. One thing that you should consider is:
    10. In the Grimm versions of fairy-tales there is always a moral to be learned. How has this lesson changed from when the tale was first written to the twentieth century?

  8. looloo14

    I love this movie! If I remember correctly, in the beginning of the movie the Grimm brothers are trying the verify their version of Cinderella. To me, their presence signifies that the movie is supposed to follow their story, however there are many differences. For instance the step-sisters face a much more violent fate in the Grimm version.
    11. What is the role of this violence and how is the movie affected without it?

  9. autumncassidy

    I really enjoy your comparison. I wonder, however, if the era differences when the original fairy tales were documented and the production period of /Ever After/ have anything to do with Danielle’s lack of gender stereotypical behavior.

    Question: Are the characteristics of Danielle the only factors which alter the story line? Do the Prince’s/Stepsister’s/Servant’s interactions play any role in the variance from the traditional tale?

  10. Sophi

    I loved The Classic Fairy Tales, and even though I’ve never seen Ever After, I can tell by the trailer that it is a great second piece to compare the written text to. I think that it’s important to remember that these two texts are in different forms, which may actually turn out to be a great reason for their significant differences.
    13.) How does the form of these texts make a difference in the way they are portrayed, and are these differences important in the lessons that are illustrated? For example, young girls may not understand the lessons of the written tale of Cinderella, but they will most likely want to imitate what they see on the big screen.

  11. Your topic is a fun one and I can agree with you on loving fairytales. I am a huge fan. I do think “Ever After” will be a good film to compare to the classic “Cinderella”. A question I found interesting was: . How does the removal of magic in the story change Cinderella’s character and the story itself? A question I have is:
    14.) How do you think Hilary Duff’s film “A Cinderella Story” effects the storyline of the classic “Cinderella”? How does it compare to “Ever After”?

  12. I’m not familiar with the film, but I find question 7 to be important to look into. It would be good to establish what has lasted from these different time periods and why.

    15. How do fairy tales, along with the movie, represent the culture of when they were created?

  13. ashleighbarraca

    I, like a lot of our other classmates it seems, love this movie too! It’s just a feel-good movie, as I like to call it. I think the fact that the movie creates such good feeling is important. Danielle has spunk and personality, and we want to see her set free; getting an invested audience is not something that really happens in the original fairy tales. I do slightly disagree with you about the fairy godmother part, though; he certainly doesn’t have a wand or pumpkin carriage, but I think Leonardo da Vinci plays the fairy godmother in the movie. That being said, 16) The lack of “real” magic could possibly transfer to outside help from other “regular” characters. Does this make it more or less like the original tale?

  14. I love your topic! It is really very interesting! I have always been in love with fairy tales as well, and I’m so excited that you are talking about “Ever After” for your paper! Your first question is very interesting to me. I think that this makes the story of “Cinderella” seem much more real, being that no magic is involved!

    17) (As an expansion on your first question) How else does the lack of magic in the movie affect the view of the story? How does this change how the story and the characters are viewed, especially Danielle in the movie?

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