Anne Sexton's Retelling of Cinderella Essay

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Anne Sexton's Retelling of Cinderella
Michelangelo, perhaps the most gifted sculptor and painter of all times, once said that "geniuses stand on the shoulders of other geniuses." As Michelangelo built upon the brilliance of his predecessors, Anne Sexton does the same with her poem "Cinderella". Fairy tales originated as oral traditions and were passed along and sculpted by thousands of story tellers. Each raconteur changes elements in the story to fit their individual needs. Sexton reinvents "Cinderella" as a poem and integrates the story with her own opinion and …show more content…

A few years into union, Anne had two children, Linda and Joy, and was hospitalized for postpartum depression after the birth of both children (McCartan 2). Her depression was severe, and Sexton was suicidal for most of her adult life. On October 4, 1974, shortly after the release of Transformations, Anne could no longer stand the pressures of her existence and committed suicide (McCartan 35).
This biographical information is essential to understanding Sexton's influences in writing "Cinderella" because the poem was written out of personal turmoil. The majority of Sexton's poetry is confessional style, but through her interpretation of "Cinderella", Sexton gives herself a more discrete outlet for her passions (Ostriker 255). Her biographer Diane Middlebrook notes that this poem was "a way to place her struggles ‘in legend rather than personal history'(37)." There are two notable examples of this in "Cinderella." First, the father and step-mother are reminiscent of Sexton's own parents. In the poem the father is distant and the step mother is the cause of all of Cinderella's hardships. Anne's mother and father both struggled with alcoholism, a struggle which, according to her biographers, influenced Sexton's substance abuses later in life. Secondly, Sexton describes the way she sees herself through the stepsisters. She describes them as, "pretty enough / but with hearts like blackjacks

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