English 102: Composition and Rhetoric
Comparing Folktales:  Essay

Dr. Tina L. Hanlon

Associate Professor of English
Ferrum College

Home page for English 102
Sample of Student Comparison Essay on Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum web site ("Inadequate Portrayals" compares two essays on films and dolls, not two stories. This is in the web site for the 7th ed. of Behrens and Rosen. We are using the 8th edition in class.)

Due: Fri., Feb. 7, 2003
Length: 750 words minimum (3 typed pages, double-spaced)

1. Compare/contrast two of the Cinderella variants in chapter 11 in the reader.  Or pick something from the list of other tales you might use below.

If you want to use a picture book or other folktales not in our reader or on reserve for this class, be sure to check with me and make sure I have a copy of your sources when I grade the paper.

2. You may focus your comparison on any features of the tales that you think will make an effective comparison-contrast. See the list of features or motifs on p. 527 and the suggestions on pp. 592-95, nos. 1 and 7.

3. Be sure your points of comparison are supporting a precise thesis. The thesis must state the main point of your comparison in precise terms. The introduction should give an overview of your sub-topics or points of comparison along with the thesis. You must have a satisfactory thesis approved by the professor before you submit your paper. Bring a tentative thesis to class on Mon., 2/3.

4. You will most likely organize your comparison by criteria (called point-by-point comparison in LBH). If you organize by source (called subject-by-subject in LBH), be sure there is a specific focus on selected features of the tales, the body of the essay is not just summarizing each tale, and the reader does not lose track of the points of comparison or contrast. See pp. 159-61 in the reader and LBH, p. 100-101 for samples of each method of organization.

5. Every paragraph should discuss a specific point of comparison that supports the thesis, and every point of comparison should be supported by details from the tales you are discussing.

General suggestions for types of thesis statements—but you develop your own specific wording that suits the works you compare and your interpretation of them:

6. If you use any short direct quotations in your essay, be sure to quote accurately and use quotations marks. Give the page number of each quotation in parentheses. See pp. 38-48 in the reader and LBH pp. 686-92 and 693-98 for advice about incorporating quotations smoothly into your paper.

7. If you use any ideas from secondary sources, such as the essays in the reader about the tales, you must document those sources accurately. For this assignment you are required to use only the primary sources—three fairy tales and your own ideas as you compare them. If you use ideas from secondary sources, you do so at your own risk.

8. Give complete citations to your sources at the end of the paper in a short Works Cited list, using MLA style (see format in both textbooks).

9. Check your paper carefully for proofreading errors, especially inconsistent verb tenses. Usually, when we retell something that happens in a story or narrative poem, in order to support an idea in a paper, we use present tense.

For example:
In “Ashputtle,” the heroine is helped by a bird that has magic powers. (main verbs in present tense)
Tanith Lee wrote “When the Clock Strikes.” (past tense because it refers to a real action in the past, but you shouldn’t have many sentences like this in your papers).

Note: The term “comparison” is often used as a general label to refer to points of comparison and/or contrast. Your essay may focus mainly on similarities or differences or both. The most important requirement is that your points of comparison are precise and support your thesis. Organizing a comparison paper can be a little complicated, so leave plenty of time to revise your paper for effective organization, coherence, clear use of details and quotations, unity of purpose, etc.

Other Tales related to Study of "Cinderella"

On Reserve in the Library:

Richard Chase, Grandfather Tales (Appalachian folk tales, 1948; contains “Ashpet”)

"Ashpet" is the Appalachian version of "Cinderella" or "Ashputtle." See links at the bottom of the AppLit page Ashpet for online tales you might want to read, including Celtic ones.

Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith, The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales (wacky picture book satires of fairy tales)

Cinderella by Charles Perrault; retold by Amy Ehrlich; pictures by Susan Jeffers (1985)

Lowell Swortzell, Cinderella: The World’s Favorite Fairy Tale (play versions from 3 countries)

Jack Zipes, Don’t Bet on the Prince (updated fairy tales by various authors and critical essays)

Ashpet - live-action video by Tom Davenport

Cinderella- Rogers and Hammerstein musical (older production with Leslie Ann Warren)- on reserve in Dr. Grimes' name

Ever After - live-action film with Drew Barrymore - in Dr. Whited's name

The Princess Diaries - Dr. Whited's copy

Not on reserve but in college library archives: The Liberated Cinderella, or, The Return of the Godfather, a one-act comedy by Rex and Ginny Stephenson.(1974)  Location: Stanley Library:  Ferrum Archives XA  /  PS3569.T3866 L5  

"Cinderella's Slipper" is an unpublished oral tale from Wise, VA, a very interesting variation on the Cinderella story with no stepmother.  Dr. Hanlon has a photocopy from the the Blue Ridge Institute archives.  More information on this is at http://www.ferrum.edu/applit/bibs/tales/ashpet.htm

The Hidden One :  A Native American Legend - a version of the Native American "Cinderella" tale. Retold by Aaron Shepard
Story text online:  http://www.aaronshep.com/stories/046.html.
Reader's Theater Edition with full text online: http://www.aaronshep.com/rt/RTE12.html http://www.aaronshep.com/rt/RTE12.html

This page's last update:   1/30/03