"Cinderella" - The Ideal Woman

Essay by crimsonbutterflyHigh School, 11th gradeA+, March 2006

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The Ideal Woman

Perrault's "Cinderella" is a fairytale which endorses a variety of communal beliefs and values, reflecting the context of society in which it was written in. One of these values significantly developed in the text is the concept of the "ideal" woman, portrayed in the central character of Cinderella embodying all the characteristics of what is considered the epitome of the female role. Cinderella's beauty, kindness and tender nature are the qualities which differentiates herself from the stark contrasting nature of her two stepsisters.

Firstly, Cinderella's extraordinary beauty is emphasized recurrently throughout the course of the text, exhibiting the importance of a woman's appearance, of which she was not only expected to be beautiful, "The most beautiful princess you ever saw" but also presenting oneself with style, "she had excellent taste." This aspect of a perfect woman is accentuated through the story as all the women who attended the ball strive to copy her style and beauty, creating the paramount icon of every woman's aspiration - to be beautiful.

This is the chief quality of Cinderella that is admired by both the men and women alike, mirroring the values of its context, where women were just appreciated for beauty and were not expected to be intelligent. This aspect is prominently concluded by Perrault as the prince "was very much in love with the beautiful lady," indicating that the prince fell in love with her beauty above all.

Also, Cinderella's grace, patience and submissiveness are more attributes fundamental to the character of an ideal woman, "she danced so gracefully, she was still more admired," illustrating her position of esteem as she displayed grace and elegance, symbolizing that of a princess everyone believed her to be. This is further developed as "she sprang...