My Reflection on "Read Between the Lines"
by Kerri Hycoop 4/30/2015
Ever since I was little, I have always been fascinated with Cinderella. So, when the opportunity came about for me to analyze a fairy tale, I automatically knew I wanted to delve into Cinderella and learn more about the tale itself. I was amazed by how many cultures had a different version of Cinderella, but decided to analyze and compare those from Egypt, China, France, and North America. While each contains different elements in their respective tales, they all clearly resemble the classic Cinderella tale most are familiar with.
Throughout our class this semester, we have worked to find major themes common in all fairy tales. We have also discussed how fairy tales, and their different adaptations, are commentaries on the culture at the time the tale was written. I decided to focus on oppression and appearance in the different Cinderella tales. In each culture’s tale that I read, the Cinderella character was treated different than all the other characters in the story and there was a heavy emphasis on her appearance.
It was the emphasis on oppression and appearance that I focused on when looking for images to accompany my analysis. The first photo, “The Eagle Steals Rhodopis’ Sandal” is one dedicated to beauty. While we don’t really see Rhodopis’ face, the sandal is important for her image. It is what distinguishes her from the other women in the village. The scene this image depicts is also the catalyst for the story—if the eagle hadn’t stolen her sandal, the King never would have received it, and he never would have found Rhodopis.
The next photo “Yeh Shen” emphasizes her oppression. The dull colors give the impression that she is unhappy and her clothes appear to be dirty and ragged. These are all ways the artist could have chosen to depict the oppression Yeh Shen experiences at home. However, the fish is bright colors, which highlights the significance it has in her life. I think it is also important to note that the village and mountains behind the two are gray because even after Yeh Shen is rescued from her home, she continues to experience oppression throughout her life.
The final photo, “Cendrillon,” speaks to both appearance and oppression. The artist has taken great care in giving Cendrillon an attractive face in order to highlight the fact that the fairy godmother doesn’t alter her physical appearance, just her dress. The tears in her dress, as well as the frays, hint at her oppression. If she were treated right, her dress would have no flaws and she also wouldn’t be holding a rag, presumably to clean the dishes around her. I think that the expression on her face shows determination; she is determined to change her life and fight back against those who mistreat her.
Unfortunately, I could not find a photo that corresponds with “The Poor Turkey Girl.” While it is the more modern of the four tales I chose to discuss, it doesn’t seem to be as widely known. I thought it was a wonderful that twists the ending of Cinderella. It seemed a bit more realistic that the poor girl got swept up in the wonders and riches and forgot her promise than for an oppressed young girl to keep to her promise of leaving by midnight.
Overall, fairy tales are timeless. The grandeur in them appears to children’s imagination. However, when you delve a little deeper, the overarching themes still apply to today’s society in which people are still oppressed and are mistreated, oftentimes in response to their appearance.