Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Pigling and Her Proud Sister

This tale can be read in full here. It is called a Korean Cinderella tale in the book, which is true, but this tale combines the traditional Cinderella plot with the Kind and Unkind Girls plot. Pigling has animal help to accomplish her impossible tasks, just like Cinderella-but the stakes aren't as high. She doesn't wear a fairy's gown and go to a ball; her first reward is to "dress in her plain but clean clothes. She went off and saw the royal banners and the king's grand procession of thousands of loyal men." Then, after her stepsister and stepmother go on a picnic without her, her reward is eating delicious fruit in a field with a black cow as her guide.

It is after this that the jealous stepsister wants to trade places; thus is Pigling given money and able to go out into town, where she catches the eye, not of a Prince, but a young man in want of a wife. He was struck by her beauty, but none of the traditional hyperbole typical of Western tales indicating that you have to be a beauty pageant winner in order to win the love of a man. The stepsister follows the cow through a swamp, and returned scratched and with torn clothes "and her beauty gone."

One other interesting feature of this version is the father. Generally he is passed from blame, although he obviously had to stand by and allow his daughter to be mistreated. This time the father and stepmother are given equal blame-"It did no good to complain to her father, for he was always busy. He smoked his yard-long pipe and played checkers hour by hour, apparently caring more about having his great white coat properly starched and lustred than for his daughter to be happy. His linen had to be beaten with a laundry club until it glistened like hoar frost."

Usually in Cinderella, the father is neutral, the stepmother evil, and the solution is to find a male savior to marry her. This version is more P.C.-the two evil characters of both gender are replaced by not only the husband, but a loving set of step-parents, "who, having no other children but their one son, became very fond of their new daughter." In a lot of ways I find this version more satisfying than traditional Western tales like Perrault's or the Grimms-not that I don't also enjoy the exaggeration of more fantastic plots as well.

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