Anne Sexton's "Cinderella"

1534 Words Oct 9th, 2004 7 Pages
"Cinderella" Analysis

Through literary devices such as simile, repetition and symbolism, Anne Sexton delivers the message that there is no way to live "happily ever after." Using four short stories as a lead in, Sexton makes powerful arguments about society by creating the symbol of the dove and alluding to the story of Cinderella. For Sexton there is no Cinderella, there is no prince charming, and there is no happy ending. However, through "Cinderella," she argues that the "happy ever after" ending remains an illusion society chases.

Sexton initially presents examples of success stories in which people, with lives of hardship, receive everlasting happiness due to superficial commodities. Sexton creates emphasis for the multiple stories
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With her magnificent gown and majestic shoes in hand, Cinderella proceeds to the ball where the prince falls madly in love with her solely based on her appearance. However, the prince is unable to recognize Cinderella after she changes back to her sooty face and ragged clothes. The shallow relationship between Cinderella and the Prince reveals another fault of society: the pressure placed on superficial characteristics and the emphasis placed upon beauty is a priority set too high. When people must "gussy up" (30) to be noticed, the person within is unable to be seen.

The Prince searches for his beloved beauty using a golden shoe left by Cinderella at the ball. The shoe signifies the "happy ever after" ending that so many people in society pursue. The step-sisters, who are both "delighted because they [have] lovely feet," (80) represent many citizens in society. Although their feet are beautiful, the step-sisters are willing to take their foot and "slice it off and put on the slipper" (83) to live the blissful ending they were hoping for. As the image of self-mutilation indicates, people across the world take extensive measures to try and obtain the happiness that they have sought after for so long.

The same happiness the step-sisters are close to stealing is ruined by the dove. Cinderella's protector, the dove, speaks to the prince and announces his obvious mistake in choosing
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