The story that I chose to read was “The Baba Yaga”, a Russian Cinderella story written by Aleksandr Afanasyev. While reading this story I realized that I have actually read it before in a children’s book years ago. Never knew this could fall under the category of a Cinderella story. Now that I read this story through the lens as such, I can see the similarities despite the many differences. First things first are the roles of the characters which are very familiar: the main heroine, father, stepmother, and the fairy godmother (though in the context of this story it’s the aunt).
The father is alive and present, while the stepmother still serves a role of an antagonistic character but not the prime one. The aunt supports the young protagonist by giving items and advice to ensure her survival. The surprising element of this story comes from the mention and introduction of the Baba Yaga, something unique and serves the primary role of a villain in this story. When Cinderella comes to mind, often the name leads to the thought of a story involving evil step-sisters and a ball. Instead, the young girl is at risk of being cooked and eaten by the Baba Yaga, having been sent to its hut by her evil stepmother. The main story beats are still the same though, as it still follows the tale of the main protagonist escaping from unfavorable conditions to a more safer and welcoming life.
What I find most interesting is the end of this story in which the father takes matters into his own hands. Finding out that his wife attempted to murder his own daughter, he decided to take the violent route and kill the evil stepmother. The story still ends happily with both father and daughter living peacefully in the forest. Different from marrying into royalty, but still considered to be a good ending in which the villains are punished for harming the main character.