It is expected that, at one point in our lives, we have read the story of Cinderella or Hamlet or even both. Cinderella is a common bedtime story for children, most especially for the girls, while Hamlet is a favorite subject of literary reading for most students in their literature classes. Due to the popularity of both these stories, they have been adapted in movies and plays for a lot of times already. Different plot variations or twists have also been already made to both stories to adapt to the ever changing audience considering that these stories have already passed on from one generation to the next. Cinderella, or The Little Glass Slipper, is an American animated musical fantasy film produced by Walt Disney in the 1950s and was based on the fairy tale “Cendrillon” by Charles Perrault (Cinderella 1). Cendrillon is French term for Cinderella and is an Italian folk tale depicting a myth with an element of unjust oppression. The first ever written version of this classic fairy tale story was published in Naples in 1634 by Giambattista Basile and its story was based in the kingdom of Naples which at the time was the most significant political and cultural center of southern Italy and among the most influential capitals in Europe (Bottigheimer 1). The origin of the word “Cinderella”, which was “Cenerentola” coming from the Italian word “cenere”, had to do with the fact that servants were commonly being soiled with ash because of their cleaning jobs and because of the fact that these servants lived in cold basements and
had to keep themselves warm by sitting close to the fireplace. “Cinderella” has also been associated to one whose attributes were unrecognized or one who achieves recognition or success unexpectedly after a period of obscurity and neglect (Bottigheimer 1). Hamlet, on the other hand, is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare sometime between the 1500s to the 1600s. Hamlet, or completely entitled as “The Tragedy of Hamlet: Prince of Denmark”, is Shakespeare’s longest play and among English literature’s most influential and powerful tragedies. This play is considered as one of Shakespeare’s most popular works during his lifetime and described as the world’s most filmed story after Cinderella (Hamlet: The Text 1). Hamlet was said to be probably first performed in July of 1602, known to be first published in printed form in 1603 and appeared in an enlarged edition in 1604 (Hamlet 1). Early writers in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, as a common practice, would normally borrow ideas and stories from earlier literary works. It was believed, therefore, that Shakespeare may have taken the story of Hamlet from different possible sources that included a twelfth century Latin history of Denmark as compiled by Saxo Grammaticus and possibly a prose work entitled Histoires Tragigues by a French writer named Francois de Belleforest (Hamlet 1). Shakespeare may also have drawn inspiration from an earlier hypothetical Elizabethan play known today as the Ur-Hamlet but many scholars believed and thought of Shakespeare himself as the writer of this play. Ofcourse, as everyone knows, Shakespeare is one of the most influential writers in all of English literature’s history and all of his works remained widely talked about up to this day and even in the future generations to come.
Although both Cinderella and Hamlet are very popular and widely read by most people in all parts of the world, they have entirely different themes and plots. Cinderella, though depicting a form of oppression within the story due to the abuse experienced by her from her stepmother, ultimately, it ended with a happy-ever-after love story between Cinderella and her beloved prince. Compared to Hamlet, we can say that the Cinderella story is light, inspiring and, most of all, gives important lessons not just to children but to all people from all walks of life belonging to different generations. Though Cinderella is commonly read by children and more popular to girls, both male and female adults also enjoy them. In fact, many movie adaptations has already been made by various filmmakers since the time the first Cinderella movie has been released. Hamlet, on the other hand, is a tragedy story and heavy in its tone considering its main theme is on revenge as the play narrated Prince Hamlet’s quest to avenge his father’s death (Differences 1). Unlike Cinderella’s story that ended on a happy and positive tone, Hamlet’s ending scene was very tragic since all of the royal family, including Prince Hamlet, died a tragic death. In some ways, Cinderella and Hamlet had similar experiences. Both of them were in situations beyond their control and both did not choose to be in their circumstances. Their stories revolve around their families, on love and also on some form of abuse or injustice. In the Cinderella story, Cinderella’s mother died and her father remarried and took another wife who, unfortunately, was wicked and even had two equally evil daughters. They made Cinderella’s life miserable. On the other hand, Hamlet’s king father also died and her mother likewise remarried
and took his uncle as her next husband. Hamlet did not like the fact that his mother married his uncle. This made him miserable. In both Cinderella and Hamlet’s situations, one of their parents died and the other parent left behind remarried which definitely affected their personal situations leading both of them to their misery and sadness. In Hamlet’s situation, however, there was an additional element of revenge considering that he later found out, through the ghost of his dead father, that his king father was murdered by Hamlet’s uncle who replaced his father as king and even took Hamlet’s mother as his wife. Hamlet promised himself that he would avenge the death of his father. His schemes and plans for the revenge, in fact, lead to the tragic ending of his whole family. Both stories also have love angles since both Cinderella and Hamlet had love interests. Their love stories, however, did not end the same way but had entirely different outcomes. Cinderella, though she was living in misery at the start of the story because of the maltreatment to her by her stepmother and stepsisters, ultimately met her prince charming that she ultimately had a happy ending with. Hamlet, on the other hand, had a girlfriend who was his love interest but the girl ultimately broke their relationship off due to the prompting and influence of the girl’s father and brother. Hamlet actually loved the girl but sacrificed his love for her as well for the sake of his plans to avenge his father’s death. Ultimately, the girl became insane after her father’s death and she, herself, died in the story. Though Cinderella and Hamlet’s endings have different outcomes, readers should be able to appreciate the lessons these stories bring in everyone’s lives and live to be better people.
Bottigheimer, Ruth. "Before Contes du temps passe (1697): Charles Perrault's Griselidis, Souhaits and Peau." The Romantic Review. 2008. Web. 27 April 2015. “Cinderella.” British Board of Film Classification. 9 March 1950. 27 April 2015. “Differences and Similarities in Hamlet.” 123HelpMe.com. 7 April 2015. Web. 27 April 2015. "Hamlet: The Texts of 1603 and 1623." Thomson and Taylor. 2006. Web. 27 April 2015. “Hamlet.” SparkNotes LLC. 2015. Web. 27 April 2015.