Date of Award

Spring 2013

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of arts (BA)


Global Honors

First Advisor

Divya McMillin


More than a millennium after the earliest-known version was committed to text, fairy tales continue to occupy our bookshelves and airwaves. The current popularity of fairy tale-based television programs such as Grimm and Once Upon a Time offer continued proof that the appeal of these tales is not lost on 21st century audiences. Beginning with the rise of fairy tales in the ancient cultures of China and India, this paper will follow their journey through Asia, long before these tales reached their traditionally recognized European birthplace. In this examination of the multicultural variations of a single tale—the Cinderella story—we begin to understand just how these stories have evolved. By means of textual analysis, I will examine the familiar French literary version (Perrault) of Cinderella using Propp’s (2008) morphology of “function” and character, and semiotic theories advanced by Berger (2000). I will then apply this structure to three television adaptations of the Cinderella story: the 1957 live-television broadcast of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, the 2006 pilot episode of ABC’s Ugly Betty, and the 2007 Mexican production of La Fea más Bella. Likewise, I will examine the ways that the Cinderella tale has retained its relevance as it crossed cultures—a literary example of globalization through cultural flow—and how the sharing of its ideas has contributed to its historical persistence.