Retelling the classic story of Cinderella

Retelling the classic story of Cinderella - student project

(Edit: Hello! I am super excited because I am finally able to put the time and work into this story. I have been updating the retelling breakdown a bit so you guys can see how things are going so far.)

The Grimm Brother's fairy tales and the Disney retelling's have played a monumental part in my life. I remember when I found out that Disney's Cinderella was actual a retelling, I immediately became obsessed with reading the original stories. Despite the Grimm Fairy tale's dark, gritty nature I have come to love their versions of Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty, etc.

For this project, I have decided to go with Cinderella. Mainly due to the fact that there are so many different variations of the story I love. That way I can take the values and characters from these variations and somehow blend them into a darker, young adult, a retelling of the beloved Cinderella with a few twists of my own. 

I really want my retelling to be something that can be the length of a novel, and maybe even a book series.

Even though it will take a little bit of work and research. I've decided to breakdown 5 different variations of Cinderella. To not only find repetitive key elements, but maybe bring forth a lesser known element in one of Cinderella's story to life. I have only included one of the breakdowns on this thread which is for the Grimm Brothers Cinderella. 

The four other variations I looked at and broke down for Cinderella, are the Charles Perraut version called Cendrillon. This introduced the iconic glass slippers, the fairy godmother, and the pumpkin carriage. A very different variation called "Catskin" collected by Joseph Jacobs in More English Fairy tales. In "Catskin", the father has a more prominent role than in the original Cinderella. It still keeps the elements of a noble girl becoming a servant, received a nickname, and eventually going to a ball and falling in love with a prince.  The next version I looked at called Le Fresne which is retold by Marie de France. In this one, a noblewoman abandons her infant daughter at the base of an ash-tree outside a nunnery. The baby is one of two twin girls, the mother believes that she will be accused of infidelity (an old belief was twins were the result of two separate fathers).  This one has less of what is normally seen in a variation of the Cinderella tale, but I wanted to include it for the interesting premise of two sisters being separated at birth. The final version I looked at is called "Cap-O'Rushes" which was also collected by Joseph Jacobs.  This one instead has a father who drives out his third daughter, who then becomes a servant at a noble household. They give her the nickname Cap-O'Rushes as she gave them no name. When the master of the house holds a ball, she attends and ends up falling in love with her Master's son. This one still has the Cinderella-esque vibe just without the glass slippers and fairy godmothers. 

Each of these other versions has shown the repetitive and recognizable elements of a Cinderella-type story, as well as giving me more ideas of things I want to include or twist in my version of Cinderella.


Story Breakdown Of Cinderella By The Grimm Brother's

Story Beats

Setup: A wealthy gentlemen's wife lies on her deathbed when she calls Cinderella over telling her to remain good and kind, as God would protect her. Every day, Cinderella visits her Mother's grave to grieve and weep

  • A year passes, and Cinderella's father has taken another wife. The woman brings two daughters into the house with her. 
  • The stepsisters are cruel and treat her like a servant. They banish her to the kitchen where she sleeps by the fire cinders when they give her the nickname of "Cinderella"
  • Cinderella plants the hazel twig her father brings back from a trip for her on her mother's grave and over the years waters it with her tears till it grows into a glowing Hazel tree.
  •  A white bird at the tree always gives to her what she wishes for.
  • The King announces that he will hold a festival that will last for three days and invites all the maidens in the land to attend so the Prince can choose a bride.
  • The step-sisters are invited to go, and Cinderella begs to go with them. Her step-mother throws a dish of lentils into the ashes for her to pick. Guaranteeing that if Cinderella can pick all the lentils up in two hours she can attend the ball. 
  • Cinderella is left behind at the house. The girl retreats to her mother's grave and prays to be clothed in silver and gold so she can attend the ball. The white bird tosses down to her silk shoes, and a silver and gold dress.
  • At the ball, the prince dances with her the entire time, and as he tries to escort her home she runs away. This also happens on the second day of the festival. 
  • On the third day, she was given the signature golden slippers by the bird.
  • As she tries to run away at the end of the night she gets stuck in the pitch the Prince has smeared on the stairs. Cinderella manages to get away leaving behind one gold slipper on the stairs. 
  • The Prince declares that he shall marry whichever Maiden the shoe fits. 
  • As he arrives at Cinderella's home, the stepsisters are advised to cut off their toes and ankles to fit into the slippers. Before the prince rides away with them, white doves appear and warn the prince that blood is dripping from the shoe.
  • The prince demands to let the family's kitchen servant try on the slipper. As Cinderella tries the slipper on the Prince immediately recognizes her as the stranger he danced with.

Ending: Cinderella and the Prince are wed and two doves appear from above and peck the evil step-sister's eyes out as punishment for the pain they caused Cinderella. 



Geography: Takes place in a Kingdom, that is vaguely European/German in this version

Time Period: Normally unspecified, most likely 19th or 20th century


Character Profiles

  • Cinderella: Main Character, Kind, Good, Forgiving, Victim
  • The Mother: The reason Cinderella is kindhearted
  • The Father: Has no Authority, Doesn't do anything to stop the mistreatment of Cinderella
  • The Step-Mother: Antagonist, Cruel, Mistreats Cinderella
  • The Step-Sisters: Antagonist's, Beautiful but Vile, Treat Cinderella like a Servant
  • The White Bird: Answer's Cinderella Prayers and Wishes
  • The King: Sets main plot in motion by holding the Festival
  • The Prince: Falls in Love with Cinderella, Rescues her from her Step-Mother and Sisters

Writing Style

  • Quaint and Simplistic, only focuses on important facts that move the story along
  • Key details are essential like Cinderella's slippers

Key Question

  • How can always being kind to others reward you?


Retelling Breakdown

 Key Questions:

  • What if Cinderella went to the ball to kill the Prince?
  • How can Kindness still play a role in the story?
  • What if the Father has a more prominent role?
  • What other fairytales can play a role?


  • Geography: A France-like country, so loosely based in a city similar to Paris
  • Time Period: More than likely will be based during the 1800s - alternative France timeline 

Writing Style:

  • Young-Adult, Fantasy, Dark/Gritty, Magic
  • Details are key - the ball, fairy godmother/dove, midnight on the third day 

Character Profiles

  • Aveline Moreau - The Cinderella of my story. Aveline is cynical, impulsive, hardworking, and a force to be reckoned with on the field. 
  • Alouette Lucroy - The White Dove/Fairy Godmother. Alouette is one of the most feared assassins in the kingdom working under the name "The White Dove", she is quiet, mysterious, and aloof.