On Anne Sexton’s Cinderella

Posted on December 13, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized |

How different is Anne Sexton’s Cinderella to Disney’s version? To the Grimm Brothers’ version?
Sexton vs Disney’s version
– DISNEY: father of Cinderella dies
SEXTON: father remarries & isn’t a good father to Cinderella; he doesn’t treat her like a daughter
– DISNEY: stepsisters were ugly both on the outside (physically) and inside (had bad hearts)
SEXTON: though the stepsisters had bad hearts, they were pretty on the outside
– DISNEY: presence of fairy godmother — helped Cinderella prepare for the ball
SEXTON: white dove on Cinderella’s mother’s grave which helped her
– DISNEY: Cinderella only went to the ball once
SEXTON: Cinderella went to the ball thrice
Disney’s version is a version for children to read because it does not contain any gruesome details. Moreover, it presents life as black and white. You’re either good or bad. An example of this is of the stepsisters being portrayed in Disney’s version as having both an “ugly” physical appearance and a moral character. The story is very direct to the point.
Sexton vs Grimm Brothers’
– SEXTON’s is more realistic — it doesn’t present life to be too fancy with its “happy endings” (first 4 paragraphs and the very last)
– frequent use of similes
Generally, Anne Sexton’s version of Cinderella resembles those of the Grimm Brother’s.
What literary devices (imagery, figures of speech, irony) does the poet use in telling her version of the story?
The literary devices used by Anne Sexton in the story all helped her interject her own commentaries and personal thoughts into the poem. It gives a twist to the classic Cinderella story.
  1. “fit into the shoe like a love letter into its envelope” (93-94)
  2. “two hollow spots like soup spoons” (98-99)
  3. “lived … like two dolls in a museum case” (101-102)


“Next came the ball…it was a marriage market” (42)


  1. Al Jolson (32)
  2. Dior (9)
  3. Bobbsey Twins (108)
Which version do you like most? Explain your answer.
This might sound biased but I genuinely love Disney’s version of Cinderella the most. As a younger kid, I liked how in the end, the stepsisters with their ugly characters with their matching ugly faces, do not get the “happily ever after”. I loved how it was Cinderella, unloved and unappreciated, who ends up living a happily ever after. I love Disney’s simplicity in getting the point across that we should live as good people. Even if Cinderella was a pushover, I was happy for the ending she experienced. Moreover, I appreciate it that in Disney’s version, she only went to the ball once. Hearing about Cinderella going to the ball thrice in Sexton’s & Grimm Brothers’ was tiring.
Furthermore, the gory details from both the Sexton and Grimm version about the stepsisters cutting off parts of their foot and their eyes being pecked were unnecessary for me. I found it harsh how women were portrayed as to go through such great lengths just to change for their partners or to be socially accepted.
Discuss the importance of the first four stanzas.
The line “That story,” was repeated thrice in the first four stanzas. I believe that she used the first four stanzas to give her readers a preview that the story they’re about to read will not be a typical, traditional fairy tale with the usual “happily ever after”.  These stanzas did prove to be useful once you read the last stanza of the story.
As Cinderella and the prince lived happily ever after, “as they say” (exact words used by Sexton),  the natural things in real life which come along with relationships and growing older disappear. In short, Cinderella and the prince lived as perfect beings living perfect lives. Sexton uses verbal irony to show that fairy tales are not realistic. For me, Sexton’s tone even implies that she mocks the idea of a picture perfect fairy tale ending.

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