Cultural Elements In The Story Of Yeh-Shen

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Since the beginning of time, children around the world from every culture have been told stories to teach them lessons and entertain them. One of those stories that spans time and place is that of the “Cinderella” tale. More than 1500 versions of this universal story have been narrated to countless children in numerous cultures. The basic premise of the story remains the same: a young, mistreated girl is rewarded for her kindness, gentleness, and goodness and is elevated in society. These worldwide interpretations become unique when a culture infuses its own values and customs into the story making it relevant. The universal “Cinderella” story is made unique, with specific cultural elements, in China’s “Yeh-Shen,” Perrault’s “The Little Glass Slipper,” and The Old Man’s Daughter. …show more content…

In ancient China, it was a cultural norm and expectation for young women to bind their feet. Tiny feet were considered exceptionally beautiful, and if a woman wanted a chance of a good marriage, she participated in this practice. This is evident in “Yeh-Shen” when the king meets Yeh-Shen and “…he was struck by her beauty and he noticed she had the tiniest feet.” Another important cultural element to the story was the presence of the fish in Yeh-Shen’s life. Yeh-Shen is told by her guardian spirit that “…the bones of the fish were filled with a powerful spirit…” and she was “…warned not to waste their gifts.” In Chinese culture, fish represent wealth and abundance and Yeh-Shen was careful to respect the bones of the fish. By including elements like the fish and footbinding in the story, “Yeh-Shen” is made relevant to a particular group of

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