Cinderella by Anne Sexton - Essay Example

The poem Cinderella by Anne Sexton is a parody of the classic Brothers Grimm fairy tail. It contains significant social commentary and symbolic imagery that causes the reader to perceive a measure of absurdity inherent in the original fairy tale. …
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Cinderella by Anne Sexton
Download file to see previous pages She leads off by describing several rags-to-riches scenarios that parallel the overall theme of Cinderella. She asserts that "you always read about" these kinds of things, implying that they are events that happen to other people but never to you, and setting the tone for her pessimistic perception of the real world. The plumber, the nursemaid, the milkman and the charwoman are each a metaphor for the character Cinderella. She unflatteringly describes the prince's ball as a "marriage market." Her description of the prince repeatedly breaking open the pigeon house with an axe to find Cinderella brings to mind the aggressive male attempting to dominate and subjugate the female. The stepsisters' willingness to maim themselves by severing parts of their feet to make them fit in the shoe suggests the complicity of women in fostering a male dominated society. Finally, Sexton mocks the fairy tale ending in which Cinderella and the prince live happily ever after by suggesting the absurdity and latent misery of living out eternity "like two dolls in a museum case" with "their darling smiles pasted on" like "regular Bobbsey twins."
Sexton's poem departs from several hallmark images and events contained in the Brothers Grimm fairy tale. ...
ictive and even violent, pointing out the blood from the stepsister's amputated toe to the prince and plucking out the eyes of both stepsisters in the end. Cinderella decides to leave the ball of her own accord in Sexton's poem, rather than being compelled to do so by the expiration of a magical spell as is the case in the classic story. Cinderella did not lose her slipper because of her hasty departure, but rather because the prince "covered the palace steps with cobbler's wax and Cinderella's gold shoe stuck upon it" in order not to let her get away from him a third time in a row. Finally, the glass slipper is perhaps the greatest icon of the original story, yet it is a gold slipper in Sexton's version.
Feminism and Realism
Feminism and realism provide a strong undercurrent to Sexton's Cinderella. These themes are vivid and she makes deft use of humor and biting sarcasm to get them across. For example, she makes statements such as: "That's the way with stepmothers;" "Rather a large package for a simple bird;" and she "walked around looking like Al Jolson." These kinds of statements disarm the reader with humor, enabling her to drive home her message ridiculing the chauvinistic and paternalistic constructs surrounding the Brothers Grimm story. The reader comes away from Sexton's poem with a poignant sense of the ways in which the original story's happily-ever-after blissful tone do not fit with reality in today's world. Ironically, the reader also gains a clear picture of the insidiousness of male domination of society, and the complicity of women in that domination by their voluntary and happy submission, that is a problem in the real world.
Anne Sexton effectively communicates strong social commentary by using vivid imagery and humor in her poem ...Download file to see next pagesRead more
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