Cinderella: Three Hundred and Forty-five Variants of Cinderella, Catskin, and Cap O' Rushes, abstracted and tabulated UNDER CONSTRUCTION | Annotated Tale

37. Aschenputtel [Note 26]

Grimm, Household Tales. Translated by Margaret Hunt. London, 1884. Vol. i, pp. 93-100. No. XXI. (From Hesse.)



Ill-treated heroine (by step-mother and step-sisters) -- Hearth-abode -- Gifts chosen by three daughters from father. Heroine chooses hazel-branch, and plants it on mother's grave.-- Help at grave--Task (grain sorting) -- Task-performing animals (birds)--Transformed mother help (bird on tree)-- Magic dresses -- Meeting-place (ball) -- Three-fold flight-- Heroine hides, (1) in pear-tree, (2) in pigeon-house, which are cut down by father--Pitch-trap--Lost shoe--Slice marriage test-- Mutilated feet--False brides--Animal witness (birds)-- Happy marriage--Villain Nemesis.


(1) Rich man's wife, before dying, bids her only daughter be good; God will protect her; she will be always near her. Maiden goes daily and weeps at mother's grave; her father soon takes another wife.-- ( a) She brings with her two daughters, fair-faced, but evil-natured, who persecute the step-daughter, and dress her in an old gown and wooden shoes. She is made to do the kitchen-work, while stepsisters tease her, emptying peas and lentils into the ashes for her to pick out again. As she sleeps on hearth and looks always grimy, she is called Cinderella.-- (3) One day father asks step daughters what he shall bring them from fair. "Beautiful dresses," says one. "Pearls and jewels," says the second. Cinderella, being asked, begs for the first branch which knocks against his hat on way home. Father brings gifts, and for Cinderella a branch of hazel.-- (4) She plants it on mother's grave, watering it with tears. It grows to a tree; thrice a day she sits beneath it, and a little white bird perches on branches and brings down whatever she wishes.-- (5) King appoints three days' festival, to which all beautiful girls are invited, that his son may choose a bride. Stepsisters go and order Cinderella to dress them. She begs stepmother to let her go too.-- (6) They mock at her dirty clothes; stepmother empties dish of lentils into the ashes, saying she shall go if she has picked them out in two hours. Cinderella goes to garden, calls pigeons, turtle-doves, and all birds to help her put "the good into the pot, the bad into the crop". Two white pigeons, followed by turtledoves and other birds, come and collect all the good grain on a dish. -- (7) They fly off again; Cinderella takes dish to stepmother, who forbids her going to ball because she has not fine clothes, and cannot dance. Cinderella weeps; step mother says if in one hour she can pick two dishes of lentils out of ashes she shall go. Cinderella again calls birds, who perform the task for her. Step mother still forbids her going, and hastens to ball with her daughters.-- (8) Cinderella goes to her mother's grave, and cries:

"Shiver and quiver little tree;
Silver and gold throw down over me."

Bird throws a gold and silver dress down to her, and slippers embroidered with silk and silver. These she dons, and goes to ball.-- (9) Stepmother and stepsisters think her beautiful foreign princess; prince will dance with no one else, and would escort her home.-- (10) To escape from him she springs into pigeon-house. Prince tells her father that stranger maiden is in pigeon-house, and he wonders whether it is Cinderella. Pigeon-house is hewn to pieces; no one is inside.-- (11) For Cinderella has jumped down, run to hazel-tree, laid her clothes on grave for bird to take away, and, when parents and stepsisters return home, is sitting among the ashes in her old gown.-- (12) Next day, when they go to ball, she goes to hazel-tree, and asks, as before, for apparel. Bird throws down more beautiful dress, and, when she appears at ball, prince wonders at her beauty, dances with her, and again wants to escort her home.-- (13) But she slips from him into garden, and clambers up pear-tree. Her father is told this, and, wondering whether it be Cinderella, he cuts tree down; but no one is on it.-- (14) For, having jumped down and returned her dress to bird, Cinderella dons her old grey gown, and sits amongst the ashes.-- (15) The third day she gets a still more magnificent dress and golden slippers from bird, and astonishes everybody at ball.-- (16) Prince is so anxious to follow her home that he has staircase smeared with pitch, and, when she runs down it, her left slipper is dragged off.-- (17) Prince picks it up, and next day takes it to Cinderella's father, declaring he will wed none whom it does not fit.-- (18) Elder stepsister tries it on; cannot get her big toe into it; mother makes her cut off big toe, force her foot into shoe, and go out to prince.-- (19) He rides away with her; but, as they pass grave, two pigeons, sitting on hazel-tree, cry:

 "Turn and peep, turn and peep,
There's blood within the shoe,
The shoe it is too small for her,
The true bride waits for you."

(20) Prince sees blood streaming from her foot, takes her back and tells other sister to try on shoe.-- (21) She finds her heel too large, cuts a bit off; and forces shoe on.-- (22) Prince rides off with her; hears pigeons cry out same verse; sees her foot bleeds, and takes her back to father, asking if he has no other daughter.-- (23) "Only the little stunted kitchen-wench." Stepmother says she is much too dirty to show herself. Prince will see her; having washed hands and face, Cinderella appears, receives golden slipper from him, and slips it on her foot in place of wooden one. Prince recognises maiden who danced with him, and cries, "This is the true bride."-- (24) Stepmother and stepsisters are furious, but he rides away with Cinderella. As they pass hazel-tree two white doves cry

"Turn and peep, turn and peep,
No blood is in the shoe;
The shoe is not too small for her,
The true bride rides with you."

They fly down and perch on Cinderella's shoulders, and remain there.-- (25) When wedding is celebrated, stepsisters seek favour with Cinderella. As the betrothed couple go to church, elder stepsister is on right side, younger on left, and pigeons peck out one eye of each. Returning, stepsisters change sides, and pigeons peck out other eye of each. Thus blindness is the punishment henceforth.


[1]: See Note 26.

Note 26

(P. 221.) Grimm gives the following variants (i, 364). One from Zwehrn is without the introduction wherein the dying mother promises to help her child, but begins at once with the unhappy life of the stepchild. The end, too, is different. After Cinderella has lived happily with the king for one year, he travels away, leaving her the keys of all the rooms. The false sister persuades her to open the forbidden room, wherein they find a well of blood. Into this the wicked sister throws her after the birth of her son, and takes her place in bed. But the sentries hear the queen's cries, and save her, and the wicked sister is punished.

In a variant from Mecklenburg, Aschenputtel has become queen, and has taken her stepmother, who is a witch, and her wicked stepsister to live with her. When she gives birth to a son they lay a dog beside her, and give the child to a gardener, who is to kill it. They do the same a second time, and the king says nothing. The third time they give the queen and the child to the gardener to be slain; but he takes them into a cave in the forest. The child is reared on hind's milk, and grows up wild, with long hair, and seeks herbs in the forest for his mother. One day he goes to the palace and tells the king about his beautiful mother. King goes to the forest, recognises his wife, and takes her home. On the way they meet two golden-haired boys, whom the gardener has spared and brought up in his own house. Gardener reveals that they are king's children. Witch and her daughter are punished.

In a story from Paderborn, a beautiful countess has a rose in one hand, a snowball in the other, and wishes for a child as red as the rose and as white as the snow. She has her wish. The nurse one day pushes her out of window, and pretends the countess has thrown herself out. She ensnares the count, and he marries her. She bears two daughters, and the red and white stepchild must serve as scullion. She has no clothes, and may not go to church. She weeps on mother's grave, and mother gives her a key to open hollow tree, wherein she murds clothes, soap for washing herself, and a prayer-book. A count sees her, and smears the church threshold with pitch. All ends in the usual way.

A variant from Zittau is given in Busching's Wöchentliche Nachrichten, i, 139. Aschenputtel is a miller's daughter, and is not allowed to go to church. There is nothing new in it, except that, instead of a dove, a dog betrays the false bride and reveals the true.

In Low-German we find Askenpuster, Askenböel, and Askenbuel(Bremer Worterb., i, 29, 30). In Holstein, according to Schutze, Aschenpöselken is derived from pöseln, to seek laboriously (as, for instance, the peas among the ashes). Sudelsödelken, from sölen, sudeln, because it must be destroyed in the dirt. In Pomerania, Aschpuk signifies a dirty kitchen-maid (Dahnert). The Hessian dialect corroborates this (see Estor's Upper-Hessian Dictionary):Aschenpuddel, an insignificant, dirty girl. The High-German isAschenbrödel. In Swabia we find Aschengrittel, Aschengruttel, Aeschengrusel (Schmid, Schwab. Worterb., 29). In Danish and Swedish it is Askesis, from blowing the ashes. In Jamieson, seeAssiepet, Ashypet, Ashiepattle, a neglected child employed in the lowest kitchen-work. In Polish, Kopciuszek, from kopec, soot, smoke.

Oberlin gives a passage from Aschenprödel in which a servant bears this name; and Seller von Keisersberg calls a despised kitchen-boy an Eschengrudel, and says, "how an Eschengrudel has everything to do," Brosamen, folio 79a. Tauler, in the Medulla animae, says, "I, thy stable-boy, and poor Aschenbaltz." Luther, in the Table-talk, i, 16, says, "Cain, the godless reprobate, is one of the powerful ones of earth, but the pious and god-fearing Abel has to be the submissive Aschenbrodel--nay, even his servant, and be oppressed.' In Agricola, No. 515, occurs, "Does there remain anywhere an Aschenbrödel of whom no one has thought?" No. 594, "Jacob, the Aschenbrödel, the spoiled boy." In Eyering, 2, 342, is "poor Aschenwedel". Verelius, in the notes to the Gothreks Saga, p. 70, speaks of the Volks Saga, "huru Askesisen sick Konungsdottren til hustru," which also treats of a youth who was kitchen-boy, and won the king's daughter. The proverbs also, Sitia hema i asku, liggia som kaltur i hreise und liggia vid arnen, apply for the most part to kings' sons, in the Wilkinasage, cap. 91, of Thetleifr, and in the Refssage (cap. 9, of the Gothreks Saga), from which Verelius wishes to derive all the others. We are likewise reminded of Ulrich von Thurheim's Starker Rennewart, who must also have first been a scullion; likewise of Alexius, who lived under the stairs in his father's royal house, like a drudge. VideGorres, Meisterlieder, p. 302.

It was a very ancient custom that those who were unhappy should seat themselves amongst the ashes. Odysseus, who, as a stranger entreating help, had spoken with Alkinous, thus seated himself humbly in the ashes on the hearth, and was then brought forth and set in a high place (7. 153, 169; compare 11. 191).

Gudrun, in her misfortunes, has to become an Aschenbrodel; although a queen, she has to clean the hearth, and wipe up the dust with her hair, or else she is beaten.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: 37. Aschenputtel [Note 26]
Tale Author/Editor: Grimm, Jacob & Grimm, Wilhelm
Book Title: Cinderella: Three Hundred and Forty-five Variants of Cinderella, Catskin, and Cap O' Rushes, abstracted and tabulated UNDER CONSTRUCTION
Book Author/Editor: Cox, Marian Roalfe
Publisher: David Nutt for the Folklore Society
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1893
Country of Origin: Germany
Classification: ATU 510A: Cinderella

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