“Donkeyskin” and “Tale of the Black Cow” contrast

Charles Perrault’s “Donkeyskin” and the anonymous “The Story of the Black Cow” display several major differences. These differences include magical animals, gender, siblings, and several other differences.

While Charles Perrault’s story starts with a dying mother leaving behind a little girl for his husband to take care of, “The Story of the Black Cow” starts with a dying mother leaving behind a little boy. Most of the Cinderella stories portray a girl as the main character, showing a major difference in gender between the two stories. Although most Cinderella stories have a stepsister, Charles Perrault’s story did not consist of a sibling at all, creating yet another difference.

Both Charles Perrault’s story and the story of the anonymous had different magical creatures. In “The Story of the Black Cow”, the creatures were a black cow and a snake, however in “Donkeyskin”, they were a fairy and a donkey. The creatures in both stories, although were different, had helped their own way. The black cow, for instance, “asked for no favours for herself, but when the snake asked what she would like, she said she would like her son, as she called the Brahmin’s son, to be clothed in gold from head to foot,” (126) showing her care for the little boy. Also, the donkey in Charles Perrault’s story had provided a disguise for the girl through his skin, which had helped her escape her father’s desire to marry her.

Charles Perrault’s “Donkeyskin” mentions a father wanting to marry his daughter as he promised his dying wife to marry only if the girl was prettier than she. The girl, guided by her grandmother, runs away and uses donkey-skin as a disguise, later working as a servant. Both stories are different since the girl in Charles Perrault’s story suffers far more than the boy in “The Story of the Black Cow”. The suffering of the girl in “Donkeyskin” was to show “virtue may sometimes seem ill-fated, but it is always crowned with success.” (116). Although it seemed as if the girl was going through endless pain, the suffering had all paid off in the end. The ending of the two stories was also different. In “The Story of the Black Cow”, the boy goes back into the forest to look for the cow, when he finds a few bones of the dead cattle, “but just as he was about to do this who should appear but his old friend, the black cow.” (127). This ending shows how the boy never forgot about the cow who had taken care of him when he needed it the most.

The two stories, “The Story of the Black Cow” and “Donkeyskin” have several major differences that are shown above, which end up telling different morals along with the gender, magical animal, and sibling differences.

Maria Tatar. The Classic Fairy Tales.

New York: Norton & Company, 1999


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *