Cinderella’s nature and her tiny carbon footprint

June 20, 2007 at 4:04 am | Posted in 4th grade, 5th grade, 6th Grade, 7th Grade, 8th Grade, Birds, Carbon footprint, Children, Cinderella, Environment, Fairy tale, Freedom, Literature, Morals, Nature, Slavery, St. Francis of Assisi, Students, Trees | 1 Comment


After enjoying the imperial warming hoax in The Emperor’s New T-shirt, my daughter asked me to write another environmental fairy tale.

“Which one do you recommend I do next?” I asked.
“Ohhh … Cinderella, of course!” she replied immediately.

Well, the hero of The Emperor tale is a boy, so it’s about time we redressed the gender balance. Now, Cinderella has two evil sisters. After hearing an excellent programme on Radio 2 about the UK charity Changing Faces and the good work it does helping people with facial disfigurement, I decided that the last thing I would do is promote the false deep-seated idea that external beauty equates with goodness and external ugliness equates with evil.

I began looking into old tales of Cinderella, and found the original story by the Grimm Brothers is perfect. The sisters are as externally beautiful as Cinderella, but they are “vile and black of heart”. They are encouraged to endure pain as their mother points out “when you are queen you will have no more need to walk”, so their larger feet become symbols of the way they trample on Cinderella and treate the Earth and others badly (in the end suffering their own pain for potential gain, which never materialises).

Cinderella by MillaisFor her part, dear Cinderella is a girl who communes with nature. She cooperates with plants and animals, and has a special connection with birds and trees, who indeed come to her rescue. The original Cinderella tale as written by the Brothers Grimm is more about spiritual strength and goodness, honouring a dead parent, and being in tune with nature and the environment than about magic. There is no fairy godmother.

Cinderella’s smaller feet tread lightly on the Earth. You can tell her lifestyle has a smaller carbon footprint than her sisters’!

Cinderella reminds me of St. Francis of Assisi as she demonstrates care for nature and concern for people (in this case, by attending to her deceased mother’s wishes). As such, Cinderella is a free spirit while remaining a physical slave to her step-mother and sisters. Meanwhile, the three new women in her life are ambitious slaves to fashion and high-society with all the trappings that entails.

Last, but not least, nature gets its own back on the evil ones, in a very appropriate way. No plot spoiler here.

Ahead of writing my own modern version of Cinderella, I present to you:

Cinderella by the Grimm Brothers

Cinderella by Millais

Painting of Cinderella by Millais


1 Comment »

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  1. Nicely said 🙂 I love how realistic and teaching the original version is!

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