The Enchantment of Cinderella: A Tale of Morals

Categories: Cinderella


Fairytales hold a unique place in literature, particularly in their profound impact on the child's understanding of the world. As Bruno Bettelheim asserts in "The Struggle for Meaning," fairytales are not only a literary form but works of art comprehensible to children in a way no other form achieves. This analysis delves into two versions of the Cinderella story—Charles Perrault's "Cinderella" and the Grimm Brothers' "Ashputtle"—and explores how these tales, rooted in fantasy, convey essential morals to young readers.

Cinderella and Ashputtle: A Comparative Analysis

The most recognizable version of Cinderella emerged from Charles Perrault's pen in 1667, later immortalized by Disney in film. The Grimm Brothers' rendition builds upon Perrault's narrative with subtle twists. Both tales follow a familiar storyline—a mistreated daughter, either Cinderella or Ashputtle, coping with an unkind stepmother and stepsisters. The pivotal moment arises when the kingdom hosts a grand ball, leading to a magical transformation for the protagonist. The prince, enamored by Cinderella or Ashputtle, embarks on a quest to find the mysterious maiden based on the shoe she leaves behind.

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The stories conclude with clear morals—Cinderella forgives her stepsisters, while Ashputtle's sisters face karmic consequences for their mistreatment.

Fairytales as Effective Morality Tools

Bettelheim's insights in "The Struggle for Meaning" emphasize the effectiveness of fairytales in shaping a child's understanding of morals and life. He contends that fairytales, like Cinderella, engage children effectively by presenting a clear moral framework. The kingdom setting, replete with kings and queens, captures a child's imagination, while the magical elements elevate the narrative beyond the ordinary.

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This simplicity and straightforwardness, essential for young minds, enable children to distinguish heroes from villains, fostering a direct connection with the story.

The use of magic in Cinderella plays a pivotal role in transforming an ordinary narrative into a captivating fairytale. Most fairytales, including Cinderella, provide a direct moral message. This simplicity allows young audiences to identify with the characters, promoting a better understanding of the story. As Bettelheim asserts, fairytales effectively convey messages like "bad guys meet their demise," reinforcing the child's inclination towards goodness. Additionally, fairytales present realistic views of human nature, incorporating struggles and challenges within enchanting fictional contexts.

The Deeper Layers of Fairytales

Quoting from "The Struggle for Meaning," fairytales serve the purpose of helping children comprehend both their conscious and unconscious selves. Beyond the explicit moral messages, Cinderella communicates deeper meanings. It transcends a mere deterrent-based morality tale, resonating with children on profound levels. The enchanting elements and fictional characters in fairytales offer a captivating way to convey valuable life lessons. As the character experiences challenges and triumphs, readers derive lessons about resilience, kindness, and the complexities of human nature.

Reflecting on life's truths, Bettelheim's statement, "Deeper meaning resides in the fairy tales told to me in my childhood than in the truth that is taught by life," underscores the enduring impact of fairytales. These narratives, while rooted in fantastical realms, hold a mirror to reality, addressing universal struggles and ethical dilemmas. The fusion of fictional fantasy with relatable themes becomes a powerful tool in sparking the reader's interest and extracting meaningful insights from the tales.


In conclusion, Cinderella, as presented by Perrault and the Grimm Brothers, epitomizes the enchantment of fairytales. These narratives, far from being mere children's stories, serve as vehicles for moral education. Through fantastical settings, magical elements, and straightforward moral messages, Cinderella engages young minds effectively. Beyond explicit morals, fairytales contribute to a child's understanding of both conscious and unconscious aspects of life. The enduring allure of fairytales lies in their ability to blend captivating fantasy with profound life lessons, offering a unique and invaluable literary experience for generations of young readers.

Updated: Dec 01, 2023
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The Enchantment of Cinderella: A Tale of Morals. (2018, Sep 09). Retrieved from

The Enchantment of Cinderella: A Tale of Morals essay
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