Walt Disney’s “Cinderella”: Morally Corrupt and Biased? For over fifty years, the magical tale that is known the world over as Walt Disney’s “Cinderella” has been passed down from generation to generation, in particularly as a popular bedtime story request from youngsters. Even more so, over the past three decades it has even become a staple in almost every young child’s home video collection.
While Walt Disney’s classic offers children a land to explore their imagination, and even a young female figure to look up to, are we as parents and society as a whole exposing our young ones to the most morally upbeat and appropriate rendition of the classic tale? With Walt Disney’s take on “Cinderella” being an animated motion picture, most notably targeted towards a younger audience, it seems perfectly fine for the film to be chock-full of whimsical scenes of magic and lots of eye appealing imagery.
One will also notice that in Disney’s take, he seems to associate the antagonist/villain roles with “ugly” characteristics, such as being fat or old and wrinkled. In Walt Disney’s adaption, he clearly states that “the ugly stepsisters were powdered, pressed, and curled” (641). While using these descriptive yet sometimes misleading methods to captivate the younger audience, it seems to overshadow the more important themes, age old sayings such as “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and “it’s what’s on the inside that counts”.
On the contrary, Charles Perrault describes Cinderella’s dress as “a dress of gold and silver cloth” (626), and her footwear as “a pair of glass slippers, beautifully made” (626). Perrault never describes the stepsisters as fat or ugly, and establishes their “mean” qualities based upon their actions. Because Perrault’s spin on the classic tale is written and not expressed visually, it allows the reader to run rampant with their imagination, granting them the opportunity to formulate their own perception of what “beautiful” is.
After all, we all have our own opinion, so why not exercise the right to form one? In Walt Disney’s rendition of the classic tale, Cinderella takes on numerous amounts of duties preparing her stepsisters for the ball, not because she wants to, but because she has to, while in Perrault’s adaption, he stresses that Cinderella “made useful suggestions and even offered to do their hair for them” (625). Perrault closes out his rendition of the classic tale with a aragraph describing Cinderella’s stepsisters’ reactions to the glass slipper fitting her foot, stating that the stepsisters “flung themselves at her [Cinderella] feet and begged for forgiveness for all of the unkind things which they had done to her” (628). Perrault then continues on to state that “Cinderella raised them up and kissed them, saying that she forgave them with all her heart and asking them to love her always” (628).
Upon closer observation, the viewer, and in this case, the reader will notice that while Perrault’s “Cinderella” is built upon a strong backbone of morality, specifically the old saying of “do unto others as you would have others do unto you”, the Disney version seems to lack any sense of moral structure. While Disney’s adaption doesn’t directly address whether or not Cinderella forgave her stepsisters in the end, it seems as though Perrault’s adaption is well rounded, preserving and directly addressing some of the key values we as a society try our best to instill in our children to this very day.
While the classic tale of Cinderella is a very warm story that leaves us with a positive, if not almost abrupt ending, it is important to be aware of the more important values being exposed to the viewer and/or reader. Make certain that it is understood that individuals are not mean simply because they are ugly or fat, such as the case with the stepsisters in Disney’s adaption, and that being skinny or young doesn’t necessarily warrant beauty within an individual.
It is also extremely important that the viewer and/or reader be allowed to form their own opinions of what beauty is to them, and not necessarily have those opinions based on a certain image portrayed within a movie. After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Works Cited Perrault, Charles. “Cinderella”. Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum. Ed. Laurence Behrens and Leonard J. Rosen. 11th ed. Boston: Longman, 2005. 624-628. Print. Grant, Campbell. “Walt Disney’s “Cinderella””. Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum. Ed. Laurence Behrens and Leonard J. Rosen. 11th ed. Boston: Longman, 2005. 641-642. Print.