Cinderella vs. Hamlet
Every emotion and feeling of human beings is captured by literary works such as stories, novels and poems. The characters, plot and themes in the stories and novels bring forth the varied emotions experienced by human beings. Two such stories which focus on the feelings and emotions of the characters are Hamlet by William Shakespeare and Cinderella, a folktale. Hamlet, a tragedy depicts the confused state of the protagonist, Prince Hamlet who is disturbed by the knowledge of his father’s murder by his own uncle, Claudius. The tale of Cinderella presents the life of a young girl, Cinderella whose sorrowful life takes an unexpected and joyful turn. The protagonists of both the stories find themselves in unfavorable circumstances in their lives, and there is a mystical element in both the plots. Although both the stories explore the distressed lives of the central characters, the theme and settings of both the stories differ from each other vastly. Cinderella’s sorrow is turned into joy when she marries a prince whereas Hamlet meets a tragic end.
The story of Hamlet revolves around the theme of revenge. Prince Hamlet strives to avenge the murder of his father. He is also angered by his mother’s marriage to his uncle, Claudius within a short period of his father’s death. “Let me not think on’t–Frailty, thy name is woman!– A little month, or ere those shoes were old With which she follow’d my poor father’s body, Like Niobe, all tears…… that wants discourse of reason, Would have mourn’d longer–married with my uncle.” (Shakespeare 142). The appearance of his father’s ghost and the revelation that his father was murdered by his uncle puts Hamlet in a position where he is unable to decide whether he should fight against the circumstances that life has put him in or just surrender before his fate. “To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep.” (Shakespeare 205). Although Hamlet wants to avenge the death of his father, his indecisiveness leads to his tragic end. The desire of revenge drives Hamlet to give up his life and its comforts. Hamlet is hurt by the evil behavior of his uncle and the marriage of his mother to his uncle.
Similarly, Cinderella is hurt by the behavior of her step-mother and stepsisters but she never harbors any sort of ill-feelings towards them nor thinks of revenge. She accepts her fate and bears all the suffering tolerantly. “The poor girl bore patiently and dared not tell her father, who would not have listened for his wife governed him entirely.” (Perrault 3). Although Cinderella was treated badly by her stepsisters, she dressed them perfectly for the ball. “Anyone but Cinderella would have dressed their heads awry, but she was very good and dressed them perfectly well.” (Perrault 5). Her goodness and patience bore fruit when she was helped by her godmother, a fairy to go to the ball dressed as a princess. The theme of the story is that goodness prevails over cruelty. Her cruel stepsisters are left to grieve about their fate while Cinderella is married to the prince.
The settings in both the stories are similar to each other in some aspects. The story Hamlet is set in the medieval period and the characters belong to royal families. The royal household and the rivalries amongst its members, provides a perfect setting to the tragic plot of the story. The country of Denmark is the place where all the action in the plot takes place. The royal family plays a part in the story Cinderella also. But the role is limited to the prince only. The central character of the story is a girl, belonging to a common household. The setting in this story is a common house where Cinderella is turned from a poorly dressed girl into an elegantly dressed princess. The royal palace is an integral part of the story, as it is here that the prince is enthralled by the beauty of Cinderella.
Both the stories depict conflicts which are affecting the central characters. The conflicts arising out of oedipal complexes and sibling rivalry are present in the both the stories. But it is the individual conflicts, raging within the protagonists, which appear to be more prominent in the stories. The conflict of Hamlet is concerned with his decision to kill Claudius or not. He doubts about the things revealed to him by the ghost. Hamlet’s conflicts lead to his distress and result into his inability to decide about his future course of action. On the other hand, Cinderella is disturbed by the conflicts that arise owing to her circumstances. Although she desires to go the ball, she is aware of the fact that her desire will remain unfulfilled. “Alas!” said she “You only jeer me; it is not for such as I am to go thither.” (Perrault 5). Her goodness aids her in resolving her conflicts. The mystical element in the story Hamlet is the reason for Hamlet’s conflicts whereas the fairy in the story Cinderella puts an end to Cinderella’s conflicts.
Perrault, Charles. Cinderella. The Creative Company. 2000.
Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. Classic Books Company. 2001.