Cinderella is a European legend or folk tale about a motherless girl. She was raised by her father, but he remarries unwisely and suddenly dies, leaving her at the mercy of a wicked stepmother and two selfish stepsisters. In Charles Perrault's version, Cinderella is helped by a fairy godmother to meet and wed a handsome prince. The story is a favorite of little girls, although misleading in raising false expectations of marrying into success rather than creating success due to marriage.
The classic plot element which makes the story memorable is the slipper (or shoe) which Cinderella loses while running out of the ball. The prince uses this as a token to identify the mysterious girl he enjoyed dancing with. The prince or his agents scour the countryside, having every unmarried lady try it on. In some variations of the story, the stepmother tries to prevent Cinderella from trying it on ("She's only a servant.")
Cinderella has been adapted numerous times for stage and screen, and is also a popular story for pantomime. Some of the best-known versions are listed here.
- Cinderella (1950): A Disney animated version
- Cinderella (1997): starring Brandy and Whitney Houston
- Ever After (1998): starring Drew Barrymore
- A Cinderella Story (2004): starring Hillary Duff
- La Cerenterola by Gioacchino Rossini, a comic opera
- Cinderella, by Rodgers and Hammerstein, the first full-scale musical comedy produced specifically for television; aired in 1957 starring Julie Andrews as Cinderella; revived several times on television and is frequently presented on stage by community theatre groups.
- Cinderella, from the Grimm Brothers' Children's and Household Tales, as translated in 1884 by Margaret Hunt. See also: Grimm index page