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Cinderella: Brothers Grimm and Traditional Fairy Tale Essay

Anne Sexton’s poetic debunking of Cinderella is a dark comic version of the popular fairy tale. In it, she combines the Brothers’ Grimm tale with stories from modern society. In the poem “Cinderella” by Anne Sexton, she uses the stylistic devices diction, tone, symbolism, repetition, similes, and references from contemporary living to the Brothers’ Grimm to satirize the happily ever after that many people chase. Does this fairy tale ending exist or is it just a dream stalked by many? As Sexton begins the poem, she sets a sarcastic tone by saying “You always read about it” and following it with extravagant rags to riches stories when in fact, these stories do not always occur.

The sarcastic tone is shown throughout the poem. With Sexton’s harsh words of reality, she breaks the dreams of the readers seeking a traditional fairy tale. The use of Sexton’s sarcastic tone foreshadows what is to come in the poem. The line “that story”, which is repeated numerous times, exposes the unrealistic nature of these rags to riches stories. Through the lines “Cinderella and the prince / lived, they say, happily ever after, / like two dolls in a museum case/ never bothered by diapers or dust, / never arguing over the timing of an egg” Sexton is in fact changing the fairy tale into a myth, making Cinderella and the prince just a portrait hung on the wall.

By her use of sarcasm, Sexton is depicting for the readers how the fairy tale ending is in fact not reality. Just because Cinderella marries the prince does not necessarily mean that they will live happily ever after. When a person runs off and gets married, it never turns out quite like a fairy tale. In the last stanza of the poem, Sexton describes the relationship between Cinderella and her prince in a set of similes used to continue the sarcastic theme set throughout the poem. She writes that Cinderella and the prince never kept house, never argued, never aged, never did any and all the things that come…


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