- JAPAN SOCIETY FOR GENDER STUDIES
- 日本ジェンダー研究 (ISSN:18841619)
- vol.2003, no.6, pp.41-54, 2003-08-31 (Released:2010-03-17)
The Cinderella story, originally recorded by the Grimm brothers and Charles Perrault, is one of the most famous stories, and Cinderella has served as a symbol of the ideal woman in Japan. This paper discusses the way the story has presented for more than one hundred years by researching the translations, published from the Meiji period up to the present.During the Meiji period, foreign fairy tales played a supporting role in child education, although they were not permitted in school textbooks. For this reason, the original image of Cinderella as an active and smart woman was changed to that of a submissive, virtuous, and filial woman. These concepts were used by the government to teach women to be good wives and wise mothers, and thereby helped to establish the patriarchy.From the Taisho period to the early Showa period, out of the western woman's movement came the idea that women worked and sustained themselves as individuals. This idea was supported by Japanese intellectuals in a modernizing society, and the “new women”, who were involved in the Japan's woman's movement, appeared. However, there was strong opposition to the idea, and the majority of people considered that young girls should not be so active. Owing to this, the importance of obedience and docility were emphasized in the Cinderella story, especially for women. The ideal of women's behavior emphasized in the Meiji period was no longer mentioned during this time, because it gradually came to be a common assumption.In postwar Japan, Cinderella was changed to be a poor but beautiful and polite girl. Moreover, the conception of Cinderella changed: she was a woman expected to be a good daughter-in-law after getting married to the prince. After the book of Disney's Cinderella was published, the Japanese willingly accepted that version because they preferred the idea that “virtuous equals beautiful” and “vice equals ugly”. Besides, the idea, “marriage equals happiness for women” emphasized in Disney's Cinderella book, fitted Japanese ideology at that time. Disney omitted mention of the status of Cinderella as “the daughter of a nobleman”, and as a result many women came to believe that they could be happy like Cinderella through marriage.Cinderella books were required to teach Japanese, especially women, the ethics and the ideology of Confucianism in the prewar era, and to promote the bright and sweet mind in the postwar years. Cinderella's image was changed to suit the changing ideologies of each period, so there is no longer the original image that is in the translated stories.