Archive for December, 2012

On Anne Sexton’s Cinderella

Posted: December 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

1. How different is Anne Sexton’s Cinderella to Disney’s version? To the Grimm Brothers’ version?

Anne Sexton’s Cinderella has a quite different story from Disney’s version but has the same story as that of the Grimm Brothers’ version. What makes it different from the latter is that it is amusing and it has a sarcastic tone. The persona exaggerated Cinderella’s description as “looking like Al Jolson” [32] (who performed in black face makeup). She described the ball wherein the prince was looking for a wife as a “marriage market” [42]. She had several other witty comments and descriptions of the people and events in the poem.

The persona in the poem is assuming that the audience already knows the story and that they probably have even read it many times. He is downgrading the fairy tale to a cliché story, believing everyone knows the flow of events in the story. Also, the sarcastic tone in the poem ridicules the rags-to-riches story and the overused “happy ever after” ending.

Sexton’s Cinderella is grimmer and “more adult” than Disney’s version in that it contains blood and violence. Disney’s version provides a perfect and happy ending to the story but Sexton’s version mocks this happiness and perfection.

Another thing which sets apart Anne Sexton’s Cinderella from Disney’s version and Grimm brothers’ version is how Cinderella was portrayed. In the poem, Cinderella was less polite. She “begged to go [to the ball]” [46] and “cried forth like a gospel singer: … send me to the prince’s ball!” [57-59]


2. What literary devices (imagery, figures of speech, irony) does the poet use in telling her version of the story?

Anne Sexton used an ironic and sarcastic tone in portraying her version of Cinderella. This irony questioned the idea of perfection and happy endings. She also used simile, metaphor and hyperbole in making witty remarks and comparisons.


3. Which version do you like most? Explain your answer.

I prefer the version made by Anne Sexton not only because it is amusing and entertaining, but also because it reflects reality. In Disney’s and Grimm brothers’ versions, the ending of the story was happy without doubt and seemed to suggest that the characters never again experienced negative feelings and happenings. In Sexton’s version, the last stanza creates a bump in the ending – a mockery in the idea of a perfect relationship.

Also, in Sexton’s version, I saw some absurdities in the story like the “marriage market” [42] where the prince was hoping to find a girl whom he will marry and the prince’s oblivion to the true owner of the shoe. How could he forget Cinderella’s face and just assume that whoever’s foot fits the shoe is Cinderella and the one whom he will become his wife? He should have recognized who was Cinderella and who was not. This tells me that the prince is quick to judge and conclude without first asking himself if he was doing things right.


4. Discuss the importance of the first four stanzas.

The first four stanzas of the poem contain four different versions of the rags-to-riches story. The first line of the poem, “You always read about it:” [1] and the phrase, “That story” in the end of three of the stories suggest a cynical tone of the persona. It sounds as if the four stories are so cliché and happens so often that it tends to destroy the value of the rags-to-riches story.

Also, the first four stanzas set the tone and mood of the poem. They tell the same story of someone not too well-off and by some chance, become rich in just a short time. In just a matter of time, they experience something low to something luxurious. This tells the audience that the story of Cinderella ends happily because of some bizarre happening and chance, not because of hard work.