Roald Dahl’s version of ‘Cinderella’ throughout the entire text is clearly satirizing the conventionality of the original feel-good fable. ‘The phoney one, the one you know, / Was cooked up years and years ago, / And made to sound all soft and sappy / [J]ust to keep the children happy.’ – he explains straightaway. Later on, keeping up with that thought, Dahl dismisses the exaggerated settings and descriptions from the original fable. ‘<…> they got the first bit right, / The bit where, in the dead of night, / The Ugly Sisters, jewels and all, / Departed for the Palace Ball’ – the author is mocking the traditional attention to detail when describing the posh setting of the dances. In my opinion, saying ‘jewels and all’ is almost like making a joke about how much the original fable would fixate on the gems that the Sisters were wearing. Dahl does a similar thing later in his take on the fable, when he writes that the prince, after he had decided to find Cinderella no matter what, ‘rather carelessly, I fear, / He placed it on a crate of beer.’ This, in my eyes, is a wonderful humorous jab at the naïveté of the original story. His last reference to the setting in the story is in its very end. In his ‘happily ever after’ ending, Dahl writes that after all the misfortune she married a jam maker, ‘Who sold good home-made marmalade. / Their house was filled with smiles and laughter.’ This adds an ironic tint to the usual ending, since this time not only is everything so innocent and sweet, but it is also quite literally sweet.
Overall, Dahl’s descriptions of the setting in Cinderella serve purely as an additional gag in the story without adding too much to it in terms of the plot. The setting in Cinderella is quite typical to that of a fable, so Dahl finds it quite irrelevant. What he does mention just gives his version an additional humoristic edge and reminds the reader of how different life in fables is from real life.
Reference: all quotations taken from Roald Dahl, “Roald Dahl’s Revolting rhymes”, Knopf, 1983.