Cinderella, one of the most popular fairy tales with countless versions, reflects gender expectations on women in vastly different societies and settings. Its storyline revolves around the idea that women are beautiful, vulnerable, passive, and obedient. Furthermore, Cinderella provides another example in fairy tales where the heroine of the story must be rescued by a man of princely ways and helped by the forces of nature. Using examples from Cinderella, it is evident that womens portrayals in fairy tales have placed gender expectations on the ideals and characteristics of heroines throughout history.
In numerous versions, Cinderella essentially keeps the same form, differing only in small details like the harshness of the stepsisters and their punishments. In all versions, the tale begins by relating the initial situation. The first introduction is that of the heroine, Cinderella. She is beautiful, kind, obedient, and passive. The death of her mother is revealed, and the ugly and evil stepmother and stepsisters are brought in. Now the mistreatment of the heroine is shown as Cinderella is forced to live in poor conditions while the others have a luxurious life.