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Cinderella - Project Gutenberg etext 19993

Cinderella by Oliver Herford

In fairy tales, a fairy godmother (French: fée marraine) is a fairy with magical powers who acts as a mentor or parent to someone, in the role that an actual godparent was expected to play in many societies. In Perrault's Cinderella, he concludes the tale with the cynical moral that no personal advantages will suffice without proper connections. The fairy godmother is a special case of the donor.

In fairy tale and legendEdit

Actual fairy godmothers are rare in fairy tales, but became familiar figures because of the popularity of the literary fairy tales of Madame d'Aulnoy  and Charles Perrault. Many other supernatural patrons feature in fairy tales; these include various kinds of animals and the spirit of a dead mother. The fairy godmother has her roots in the figures of the Fates; this is especially clear in the Sleeping Beauty, where they decree her fate, and are associated with spinning.

In the tales of précieuses and later successors, the fairy godmother acts in a manner atypical of fairies in actual folklore belief; they are preoccupied with the character and fortunes of their human protegees, whereas fairies in folklore had their own interests.

Typically, the fairy godmother's protégé is a prince or princess and the hero of the story, and the godparent uses her magic to help or otherwise support them. The most well-known example is probably the fairy godmother in Charles Perrault's Cinderella. Eight fairy godmothers appear in the Sleeping Beauty, of Charles Perrault's and in the Grimm Brothers's version titled Little Briar Rose the thirteen so-called godmothers are called Wise Women. The popularity of these versions of these tales led to this being widely regarded as a common fairy-tale motif, although they are less common in other tales.

Indeed, the fairy godmothers were added to the Sleeping Beauty by Perrault; no such figures appeared in his source, "Sun, Moon, and Talia" by Giambattista Basile. In the Grimm Brothers' variant of Cinderella, Aschenputtel is aided not by her fairy godmother but by her dead mother. A great variety of other figures may also take this place. She is portrayed as kind, gentle and sweet.

See alsoEdit

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