10 Fairy Tales That Were Way Darker Than You Realized as a Kid

This Arthur Rackham illustration of Cinderella shows the fairy godmother granting her wish to go to the ball. Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images

The 1950 Disney film depicts a beautiful young woman who's been virtually enslaved by her evil stepmother but gets a chance at happiness when her fairy godmother intervenes. The godmother transforms Cinderella's ragged attire into an elegant gown so that she can attend a royal ball and meet Prince Charming. Her magical reprieve only lasts until midnight, however, and she flees, leaving behind one of her glass slippers. The prince finds it and goes looking for the mystery woman who's enthralled him. Cinderella's two evil stepsisters try on the slipper but their feet are too big. The shoe is just right for Cinderella, and she marries the handsome prince [source: AFI].

That's pretty much what also happens in "Cinderilla or The Little Glass Slipper," the 1697 story by Charles Perrault, which ends with the stepsisters begging Cinderella for forgiveness, which she graciously accepts. But the 1812 Grimm version, "Aschenputtel," is pretty horrific. The evil stepmother hands a knife to the eldest of her two daughters, and orders her to cut her toe off, "for when you are queen, you will never have to go on foot." The prince is fooled and rides off with her, until two talking pigeons alert him to her blood-soaked shoe. The younger stepdaughter then tries to fool him by cutting off her heel, but the pigeons tip off the prince again. Ultimately, when he identifies the girl of his dreams, the two evil stepsisters attend the wedding hoping to curry favor. But the pigeons blind them by plucking out their eyes.