This fairy tale has a lot of versions, authored by different people. One of the most well-known and popular versions was the one written by Charles Perrault (1697), which will be discussed first followed by the other versions. There is a general agreement in all the versions that Cinderella was mistreated by her stepmother and her two daughters, and that by a stroke of luck, or through magic, she gets the Princes’ attention and they eventually get married and live happily ever after.
Charles Perrault’s version
In this version, Cinderella gets her big break when the Prince invites all the young ladies to a ball in a bid to find a wife. As ladies go to the ball, she is left crying. Suddenly her fairy Godmother appears and in an effort to get her to the ball, turns a huge pumpkin into a carriage, some mice into horses and a rat into a coachman. Cinderella’s rags are transformed into a beautiful gown complete with glass slippers on her feet. She is now set for the ball, albeit on one condition-she has to come back by midnight, when the spell would be broken. At the ball, all are entranced by the charming Cinderella, particularly the prince. At midnight, Cinderella leaves. There was another ball the next evening, and this time Cinderella and the Prince get so engrossed in each other that she loses track of time and in her hurry to leave, she leaves one of her glass slippers behind. In an attempt to get her back, the prince tries the slipper on all the ladies in the Kingdom and declares that whoever's feet shall fit into the slipper would become his wife. After a long search, the slipper is found to fit only Cinderella, and they live with the prince happily ever after.
Version II (Germany)
The second version, by the Grimm brothers Jacob and Wilhelm, has more of less the same plot, only that this time, she is delivered from her misery by the wishing tree on her mother’s grave and not the fairy Godmother. She had planted the wishing tree from a twig that her father had brought her as a present as the stepsisters were gifted with fine jewels and clothes, and had watered it with her own tears till it grew into a huge hazel tree.
Version III (Norway)
This version was created by Peter Christen and Jorgen Moen. In this version, a bull and not a fairy Godmother comes to Cinderella's rescue. The bull had given her a stick that she only needed to knock against a rock and her wishes would be granted. In this version, Cinderella goes to church, not the ball, and it is here that she catches the Prince's attention. After numerous unsuccessful attempts by the Prince to get her audience, the Prince gets his servants to pour a firkin of pitch on the porch so that she could get stuck in it and he could go save her. Instead, her slipper gets stuck, and she is forced to leave it behind. The King then goes on a quest to find the owner of the slipper, and eventually finds her. They end up falling in love.
In the fourth version, a fairy Godmother comes to Cinderella’s rescue after she breaks a pitcher, she models it back into place and the pitcher then magically begins to help Cinderella with her chores, much to her delight. Here, there is no talk of a prince, a ball or a glass slipper.
All these versions describe an orphan, who is mistreated. There is a consensus that a stroke of luck; she gets the Prince's attention. The Prince is mesmerized by this girl and falls in love with her. They eventually get married.
Wasserman, Robin, and Leigh Dunlap. A Cinderella Story. New York: Scholastic Inc, 2004. Print.