Settled in my new place, Italy, I decided to look a little bit into some fairy tales from here. I tried to find Roman folktales but to my surprise, I found this: La Cenorientola.
Many storytellers have already written lots of things about this story and one of the most interesting facts is that there are around 500 hundred versions of the same story in Europe alone: Cenicienta (Spain), Cinderella (France), Catskinella (African – American folktales), Sapsorrow (Germany), Billy Beg and the Bull (Ireland), and in other continents there are: Benizara and Kakezara (Japan), and many others. It is known that Rhodopis (Egypt) has the earliest record of the shoe motif and there are some who claim that the Chinese version called: Yeh-Shen (850 AD China) is most likely the oldest story of Cinderella; The Canadian Opera Company published in the following link:
Like all versions, this tale has its own characteristics.
From "Her Stories" - Catskinella
The usual story of Cinderella tells the tale of a normal teen-aged girl who is brutally mistreated by her step mother and sister. Magic is around everything that involves Cinderella but in the Italian version Cinderella also has some sort of magical powers.
She demonstrates it with the following sentence: “But you will bring me a little bird, won’t you, papa?’ pleaded the little girl; ‘and I can tell you that if you don’t the boat you are on will stand still, and will neither move backwards nor forwards.'” As one can probably guess, the father forgets about the bird and his daughter’s prophecy is fulfilled.
There are other details that make this story worth reading and telling: the fact that there is no fairy godmother, but the “bird” that the father brings back is truly a fairy and helps Cinderella to have a “happy ever after” ending; the slipper was made of gold instead of crystal or glass; it’s the king who falls in love with Cinderella and does learn her name from Cinderella herself but not where to find her. There is also the fact that Cinderella – in this version – shows no signs of defect. She is again an image of perfection. Well, there are other details but the idea is to pick your curiosity so you will read it.
A drawing by Arthur Rackham
What is always a main factor in all the versions of the story is the innocence and kindness of the heroine. In many versions, Cinderella – after marrying the Prince or King – forgives her step-sisters and they all live happily ever after. But this made me question: why is it that the character who most suffers and is adorned by goodness of heart is the one who always gets “the prize”?
If you think about it logically, with the wit and the meanness of the sisters, Cinderella should have ended up with nothing and less than nothing. In the real world, many bad deeds end up with good results – at least the expected results. Why is it that in most stories – especially the classic fairy tales – the ones who end up with complete happiness are the ones who strive for moral excellence?
I’ve already written a bit about suffering when I analysed “The Ugly Duckling”, but the natural tendency of rewarding goodness of heart that is stamped in human nature is something that is intriguing to all. In all the versions of this beautiful story there lies the fact that there is true justice in them – the virtue of giving to each person what they are due – and the fact that this heroine always follows a natural law that is written in each of our hearts: do good and avoid evil – even though this is a hard task.
A beautiful picture by Howard David Johnson
I once read this: In the depths of the conscience, the human person detects a law which s/he does not impose upon himself / herself; always summoning him/her to love good and avoid evil; the voice of conscience when necessary speaks to his/her heart. Conscience is the most secret core and sanctuary of a man. And in the inmost part of the human soul, s/he knows that only through goodness and love comes happiness. Cinderella – Cenorientola in Italian – incarnates this, though it’s not the only story.
Though to follow this “natural law” that we all have in our conscious is not easy – and even painful at times – this story tells us that what awaits us after is worth enduring whatever we may have to face.
For the full story click: http://www.italiansrus.com/etexts/cenorientola.htm