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Anne Sexton's Poem, Cinderella

We are all socialized from early on through fairy tales, mythical stories that more often than not end ôhappily ever after.ö One such fairy tale, ôCinderella,ö has characterized expectations and assumptions of romance, particularly the notion of a put upon female being rescued by her ôPrince Charming.ö In Anne SextonÆs poem ôCinderella,ö the poet mocks the traditional version of ôCinderella,ö adding her own perspective that includes contemporary references in order to make her point. Her point is that such fairy tales engender a number of assumptions and expectations of gender roles and gender relations that are invalid in the face of reality.

At the beginning of her poem, Sexton uses four stanzas that depict myths wherein someone who is put upon, a ôplumber,ö a ônursemaid,ö etc., suddenly has their life transformed into one of bliss (Sexton 1). However, the poet uses a number of phrases that show she is mocking the traditional use of such myths. The speaker feels such myths are invalid in reality and are repeated so often they have a brainwashing effect on individuals that makes them believe they are truth. We see this when the speaker intones, ôThat storyö four times (3 in the opening four stanzas and once in the final stanza) and when she uses other phrases like ôThatÆs the way with stepmothers,ö ôWhich is no surprise,ö and ôAs you all knowö (Sexton 1-2). By including such phrases, Sexton is commenting on the worn-out appeal of such oft-repeated myths. Their appeal no longer has resonance in contemporary society.

Sexton includes references to contemporary society in her poem. One of these works on a twofold level. She maintains that Cinderella sleeps on a ôsooty hearthö and ôwalked around looking like Al Jolsonö (Sexton 1). This reference works to reinforce the notion that contemporary women cannot find hope in such myths because, like the stepsisters who will even mutilate themselves to ...

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Anne Sexton's Poem, Cinderella. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 05:21, May 31, 2020, from