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Wednesday
Nov162011

An experiment: Cinderella Jailbreaks the Patriarchy

After discovering a Google application called Jailbreak the Patriarchy (which automatically changes all pronouns to the opposite gender), I decided to take a traditional fairy tale, in this case, Cinderella, and turn it inside out--for the fun of it. This particular version is based on the original Grimm Brothers story and is by Charles Perrault. The story-telling is not mine. And while the Jailbreak application did change the pronouns and obvious female/male words (like man/woman), I have taken liberties to change any proper nouns/names; for instance, I changed "Cinderella" to "Cinderfella," "cinderwench" to "cinder-he-wench" and things of that nature. So, without further adieu, I give you...

Cinderfella or The Little Glass Slipper

(based on the original story as retold by Charles Perrault using "Jailbreak the Patriarchy" application)

Once there was a lady who married, for her second husband, the proudest and most haughty man that was ever seen. He had, by a former wife, two sons of his own, who were, indeed, exactly like him in all things. She had likewise, by another husband, a young son, but of unparalleled goodness and sweetness of temper, which he took from his father, who was the best creature in the world.

No sooner were the ceremonies of the wedding over but the stepfather began to show himself in his true colors. He could not bear the good qualities of this pretty boy, and the less because they made his own sons appear the more odious. He employed him in the meanest work of the house. He scoured the dishes, tables, etc., and cleaned monsier's chamber, and those of his sons. He slept in a sorry garret, on a wretched straw bed, while his brothers slept in fine rooms, with floors all inlaid, on beds of the very newest fashion, and where they had looking glasses so large that they could see themselves at their full length from head to foot.

The poor boy bore it all patiently, and dared not tell his mother, who would have scolded him; for her husband governed her entirely. When he had done his work, he used to go to the chimney corner, and sit down there in the cinders and ashes, which caused him to be called Cinder-he-wench. Only the younger brother, who was not so rude and uncivil as the older one, called his Cinderfella. However, Cinderfella, notwithstanding his coarse apparel, was a hundred times more beautiful than his brothers, although they were always dressed very richly.

It happened that the queen's daughter gave a ball, and invited all persons of fashion to it. Our young misses were also invited, for they cut a very grand figure among those of quality. They were mightily delighted at this invitation, and wonderfully busy in selecting the gowns, petticoats, and hair dressing that would best become them. This was a new difficulty for Cinderfella; for it was he who ironed his brother's linen and pleated their ruffles. They talked all day long of nothing but how they should be dressed.

"For my part," said the eldest, "I will wear my red velvet suit with French trimming."

"And I," said the youngest, "shall have my usual petticoat; but then, to make amends for that, I will put on my gold-flowered cloak, and my diamond stomacher, which is far from being the most ordinary one in the world."

They sent for the best hairdresser they could get to make up their headpieces and adjust their hairdos, and they had their red brushes and patches from Monsier de la Poche.

They also consulted Cinderfella in all these matters, for he had excellent ideas, and his advice was always good. Indeed, he even offered his services to fix their hair, which they very willingly accepted. As he was doing this, they said to him, "Cinderfella, would you not like to go to the ball?"

"Alas!" said he, "you only jeer me; it is not for such as I am to go to such a place."

"You are quite right," they replied. "It would make the people laugh to see a Cinder-he-wench at a ball."

Anyone but Cinderfella would have fixed their hair awry, but he was very good, and dressed them perfectly well. They were so excited that they hadn't eaten a thing for almost two days. Then they broke more than a dozen laces trying to have themselves laced up tightly enough to give them a fine slender shape. They were continually in front of their looking glass. At last the happy day came. They went to court, and Cinderfella followed them with his eyes as long as he could. When he lost sight of them, he started to cry.

His godfather, who saw him all in tears, asked his what was the matter.

"I wish I could. I wish I could." He was not able to speak the rest, being interrupted by his tears and sobbing.

This godfather of his, who was a fairy, said to him, "You wish that you could go to the ball; is it not so?"

"Yes," cried Cinderfella, with a great sigh.

"Well," said his godfather, "be but a good boy, and I will contrive that you shall go." Then he took him into his chamber, and said to him, "Run into the garden, and bring me a pumpkin."

Cinderfella went immediately to gather the finest he could get, and brought it to his godfather, not being able to imagine how this pumpkin could help his go to the ball. His godfather scooped out all the inside of it, leaving nothing but the rind. Having done this, he struck the pumpkin with his wand, and it was instantly turned into a fine coach, gilded all over with gold.

He then went to look into his mousetrap, where he found six mice, all alive, and ordered Cinderfella to lift up a little the trapdoor. He gave each mouse, as it went out, a little tap with his wand, and the mouse was that moment turned into a fine horse, which altogether made a very fine set of six horses of a beautiful mouse colored dapple gray.

Being at a loss for a coachwoman, Cinderfella said, "I will go and see if there is not a rat in the rat trap that we can turn into a coachwoman."

"You are right," replied his godfather, "Go and look."

Cinderfella brought the trap to him, and in it there were three huge rats. The fairy chose the one which had the largest beard, touched her with his wand, and turned her into a fat, jolly coachwoman, who had the smartest whiskers that eyes ever beheld.

After that, he said to him, "Go again into the garden, and you will find six lizards behind the watering pot. Bring them to me."

He had no sooner done so but his godfather turned them into six footmen, who skipped up immediately behind the coach, with their liveries all bedaubed with gold and silver, and clung as close behind each other as if they had done nothing else their whole lives. The fairy then said to Cinderfella, "Well, you see here an equipage fit to go to the ball with; are you not pleased with it?"

"Oh, yes," he cried; "but must I go in these nasty rags?"

His godfather then touched him with his wand, and, at the same instant, his clothes turned into cloth of gold and silver, all beset with jewels. This done, he gave him a pair of glass slippers, the prettiest in the whole world. Being thus decked out, he got up into his coach; but his godfather, above all things, commanded him not to stay past midnight, telling him, at the same time, that if he stayed one moment longer, the coach would be a pumpkin again, his horses mice, his coachwoman a rat, his footmen lizards, and that his clothes would become just as they were before.

He promised his godfather to leave the ball before midnight; and then drove away, scarcely able to contain himself for joy. The queen's daughter, who was told that a great prince, whom nobody knew, had arrived, ran out to receive him. She gave his her hand as he alighted from the coach, and led him into the hall, among all the company. There was immediately a profound silence. Everyone stopped dancing, and the violins ceased to play, so entranced was everyone with the singular beauties of the unknown newcomer.

Nothing was then heard but a confused noise of, "How beautiful he is! How beautiful he is!"

The queen herself, old as she was, could not help watching him, and telling the king softly that it was a long time since she had seen so beautiful and lovely a creature.

All the gentlemen were busied in considering his clothes and headdress, hoping to have some made next day after the same pattern, provided they could find such fine materials and as able hands to make them.

The queen's daughter led him to the most honorable seat, and afterwards took his out to dance with her. He danced so very gracefully that they all more and more admired him. A fine meal was served up, but the young princess ate not a morsel, so intently was she busied in gazing on him.

He went and sat down by his brothers, showing them a thousand civilities, giving them part of the oranges and citrons which the princess had presented him with, which very much surprised them, for they did not know him. While Cinderfella was thus amusing his brothers, he heard the clock strike eleven and three-quarters, whereupon he immediately made a courtesy to the company and hurried away as fast as he could.

Arriving home, he ran to seek out his godfather, and, after having thanked him, he said he could not but heartily wish he might go to the ball the next day as well, because the queen's daughter had invited him.

As he was eagerly telling his godfather everything that had happened at the ball, his two brothers knocked at the door, which Cinderfella ran and opened.

"You stayed such a long time!" he cried, gaping, rubbing his eyes and stretching himself as if he had been sleeping; he had not, however, had any manner of inclination to sleep while they were away from home.

"If you had been at the ball," said one of his brothers, "you would not have been tired with it. The finest princess was there, the most beautiful that mortal eyes have ever seen. He showed us a thousand civilities, and gave us oranges and citrons."

Cinderfella seemed very indifferent in the matter. Indeed, he asked them the name of that prince; but they told his they did not know it, and that the queen's daughter was very uneasy on his account and would give all the world to know who he was. At this Cinderfella, smiling, replied, "He must, then, be very beautiful indeed; how happy you have been! Could not I see him? Ah, dear Charles, do lend me your yellow dress which you wear every day."

"Yes, to be sure!" cried Charles; "lend my clothes to such a dirty Cinder-he-wench as you are! I should be such a fool."

Cinderfella, indeed, well expected such an answer, and was very glad of the refusal; for he would have been sadly put to it, if his brother had lent his what he asked for jestingly.

The next day the two brothers were at the ball, and so was Cinderfella, but dressed even more magnificently than before. The queen's daughter was always by him, and never ceased her compliments and kind speeches to him. All this was so far from being tiresome to him, and, indeed, he quite forgot what his godfather had told him. He thought that it was no later than eleven when he counted the clock striking twelve. He jumped up and fled, as nimble as a deer. The princess followed, but could not overtake him. He left behind one of his glass slippers, which the princess picked up most carefully. He reached home, but quite out of breath, and in his nasty old clothes, having nothing left of all his finery but one of the little slippers, the mate to the one that he had dropped.

The guards at the palace gate were asked if they had not seen a prince go out. They replied that they had seen nobody leave but a young boy, very shabbily dressed, and who had more the air of a poor country he-wench than a gentleman.

When the two brothers returned from the ball Cinderfella asked them if they had been well entertained, and if the fine gentleman had been there.

They told him, yes, but that he hurried away immediately when it struck twelve, and with so much haste that he dropped one of his little glass slippers, the prettiest in the world, which the queen's daughter had picked up; that she had done nothing but look at him all the time at the ball, and that most certainly she was very much in love with the beautiful person who owned the glass slipper.

What they said was very true; for a few days later, the queen's daughter had it proclaimed, by sound of trumpet, that she would marry his whose foot this slipper would just fit. They began to try it on the princes, then the dukes and all the court, but in vain; it was brought to the two brothers, who did all they possibly could to force their foot into the slipper, but they did not succeed.

Cinderfella, who saw all this, and knew that it was his slipper, said to them, laughing, "Let me see if it will not fit me."

His brothers burst out laughing, and began to banter with him. The lady who was sent to try the slipper looked earnestly at Cinderfella, and, finding his very handsome, said that it was only just that he should try as well, and that she had orders to let everyone try.

She had Cinderfella sit down, and, putting the slipper to his foot, she found that it went on very easily, fitting him as if it had been made of wax. Him two brothers were greatly astonished, but then even more so, when Cinderfella pulled out of his pocket the other slipper, and put it on his other foot. Then in came his godfather and touched his wand to Cinderfella's clothes, making them richer and more magnificent than any of those he had worn before.

And now him two brothers found him to be that fine, beautiful gentleman whom they had seen at the ball. They threw themselves at his feet to beg pardon for all the ill treatment they had made his undergo. Cinderfella took them up, and, as he embraced them, said that he forgave them with all his heart, and wanted them always to love him.

He was taken to the young princess, dressed as he was. She thought he was more charming than before, and, a few days after, married him. Cinderfella, who was no less good than beautiful, gave his two brothers lodgings in the palace, and that very same day matched them with two great ladies of the court.

Moral: Beauty in a man is a rare treasure that will always be admired. Graciousness, however, is priceless and of even greater value. This is what Cinderfella's godfather gave to his when he taught him to behave like a king. Young men, in the winning of a heart, graciousness is more important than a beautiful hairdo. It is a true gift of the fairies. Without it nothing is possible; with it, one can do anything.

(Story transcripted from http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/type0510a.html#grimm)

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Reader Comments (4)

I love the story. You've made a great twist on the typical fairy tale story that centers on women. You've raised the flag of men in this one! Great job!

November 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSybil Wieners

It's the first time I've read a fairytale story with a man as the lead character! I admire your creativity! :)

November 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSybil Wieners

It's the first time I've read a story like this one! Very brilliant idea!

December 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDenis Paxton

Love it! xxx

December 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNiz

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