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Comparing Literary Texts (Grade 4)

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Comparing Literary Texts

The Cinder Maid (Europe)

Now there was among the nobles of the king's court one who had married twice. By the first marriage he had but one daughter. As she was growing up her father thought that she ought to have someone to look after her. So he married again, a lady with two daughters. His new wife, instead of caring for his daughter, thought only of her own and favored them in every way. She would give them beautiful dresses, but none to her stepdaughter who had only to wear the castoff clothes of the other two.

The noble's daughter was set to do all the drudgery of the house. She had to attend the kitchen fire. She had naught to sleep on but the heap of cinder raked out in the scullery. That is why they called her Cinder Maid. No one took pity on her. She would go and weep at her mother's grave where she had planted a hazel tree, under which she sat.

Cinderella (France)
Once there was a gentleman who married, for his second wife, the proudest and most haughty woman that was ever seen. She had, by a former husband, two daughters of her own. They were, indeed, exactly like her in all things. He had likewise, by another wife, a young daughter. She was of unparalleled goodness and sweetness of temper. This she took from her mother, who was the best creature in the world.

No sooner were the ceremonies of the wedding over but the stepmother began to show herself in her true colors. She could not bear the good qualities of this pretty girl. They made her own daughters appear the more odious. She employed her in the meanest work of the house. She scoured the dishes, tables, etc. She cleaned madam's chamber, and those of misses, her daughters.

She slept in a sorry garret, on a wretched straw bed, while her sisters 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.
How are the two stories the same?

How is the stepmother different in the two stories?

In the first story, the prince ends up discovering the Cinder Maid because she is a noble. In the second, he marries her because of her inner beauty. Does this change the moral of the story?

A version of the story from Germany reads...

Once upon a time there was a rich man who lived happily for a long time with his wife. Together they had a single daughter. Then the woman became ill, and when she was lying on her deathbed, she called her daughter to her side, and said, "Dear child, I must leave you now, but I will look down on you from heaven. Plant a little tree on my grave, and when you want something, just shake the tree, and you shall get what you want. I will help you in time of need. Just remain pious and good." Then she closed her eyes and died. The child cried, and planted a little tree on her mother's grave. She did not need to carry any water to it, because her tears provided all the water that it needed.

How is it different from the other two versions?

A version of the story from Norway reads...
Once on a time there was a king who had become a widower. By his queen he had one daughter, who was so clever and lovely, there wasn't a cleverer or lovelier princess in all the world. So the king went on a long time sorrowing for the queen, whom he had loved so much, but at last he got weary of living alone, and married another queen, who was a widow, and had, too, an only daughter; but this daughter was just as bad and ugly as the other was kind, and clever, and lovely. The stepmother and her daughter were jealous of the princess, because she was so lovely; but so long as the king was at home they daren't do her any harm, he was so fond of her.

Is this version most like the version from Europe or France?

A version of the story from Ireland reads...
King Aedh C'rucha lived in Tir Conal, and he had three daughters, whose names were Fair, Brown, and Trembling.

Fair and Brown had new dresses, and went to church every Sunday. Trembling was kept at home to do the cooking and work. They would not let her go out of the house at all; for she was more beautiful than the other two, and they were in dread she might marry before themselves.

How is this version different from the other versions?
  1. Cinderella's name is different.
  2. The girl is not a stepsister.
  3. The sisters are jealous of Trembling.
  4. Both a and b

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