Sophomore (College 2nd year) ・English ・MLA ・9 Sources

In the Grim edition, the plot begins with a series of smaller case studies of individuals who rose from poverty to riches by chance, such as falling in love with royalty, winning a sweepstakes, or discovering an insurance policy. It is a common occurrence in most ancient short stories. Cinderella is raised by her stepmother, who assigns her to the role of housemaid in Sexton's version. Cinderella receives a twig as a gift from her father, which she places on her mother's grave, where it grows into a magical tree that attracts a magical dove. The dove would give her everything she desired. The majority of poets use writing to retell their personal tales. It is the mode of expressing personal experience while also enticing the populace. Though the tale may seem all too common, Anne Sexton utilizes poetic elements to determine the mood of the poem. Therefore, this paper will strive to analyze the literary elements and their effect on this poem.

To enhance the meaning of the poem, the poet utilizes sarcasm. The poetic language is usually filled with sarcastic sentiments that strive to entice the readers. For instance, the stanzas begin “You always read about it: the plumber with twelve children who wins the Irish Sweepstakes. From toilets to riches.” The sentiments are then followed by a sarcastic catchphrase “That story” (Sexton 31). The sentiments are a recap of the conventional stories that were mainly based on moving from poverty to riches by luck. In other words, the protagonists in most of the short stories would begin as poverty stricken before gaining wealth through luck, perhaps marrying a prince or princess, or encountering a mysterious object. The sarcastic refrain only leaves the reader hopeful of a happy ending just like any other fairy tale (Sharma 5).

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The author provides most of her notions in an ironic manner. In the last stanza, Anne ironically emphasizes that most of the conventional short stories are unrealistic and mythical. The perception of “happily ever after” that are primarily championed within the society do not exist in actuality. This aspect is evident in the last Stanza where she states “lived, they say, happily ever after (Sexton 33).” In this ironic statement, Anne tries to state to the readers what they already know i.e. an ideal world does not exist. Therefore, Sexton emphasized that fairy tales do not exist in an ideal world. However hard individuals attempt to look for a fantasy world, it will never come to existence. The society has this illusion in their minds, yet they know it will never occur. In fact, Anne implies that deception often occurs in our societies more than in the Cinderella story (Sharma 6). As exemplified in the text, Anne Sexton disregards the fairy tales; hence, the sarcastic assertions about the same. According to Rosemary Lutz, fairy tales utilize supernatural aid, particularly in hopeless situations. Furthermore, the short stories utilize poetic and exaggerated imagery of fantasy to depict the deep-seated feeling of another individual while facing the normal life challenges. In a society that offers few supernatural narratives has for life’s suffering and pain, it is not a surprise that people resort to supernatural narratives. However, Sexton gives an account that undermines the vitality of fairy tales (Lutz 12).

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The author also utilizes a significant amount of similes to enhance the overall meaning of the poem. In line 13 of the poem, “the white truck like an ambulance….” she utilizes the simile to bring a dark tone to the good fortune business sense (Sexton 31). The device suddenly associates all the good things mentioned to emergency, injury, or death among other bad things. Another simile is evident in stanza five line 29, where the author states that the stepdaughters have “hearts like blackjacks.” The term black is universally connected with evil (Sexton 31). As such, Sexton attempts to demonstrate the evil nature of the stepsisters that overshadowed their beauty. Sexton also uses another simile in stanza 8 line 94 stating that “like a love letter into its envelope” (Sexton 32). Following the lines, the simile is classic and sentimental that typically contrasts the dreadful preceding lines. According to Nadia Mohammed, Sexton’s perceptions were realistic in nature. In other words, she ridiculed conventional short stories that had happy endings or an idealistic world without enmity (Mohammed 4). Similarly, Shiho Fukuda states that Sexton’s poem was trying to outline the “American Dream” where people relied on “accidental strokes of good luck.” The luck would then culminate to huge fortunes (Fukuda 35). The same sentiments are echoed by Gwen Robinson who strives to provide a feminist approach to this poem. The device portrays women as evil beings since the tale is mainly based onthem. In a society that is mainly dependent on luck, jeolousy is common,particularly if someone close is favored. This was quite common in the Cinderalla society (Robinson 5).

In conclusion, Sexton uses various literary elements to enhance the overall meaning of the poem. One of the prominent elements is sarcasm, which epitomizes the entire poem. Through this device, Sexton undermines the assertions of the fairy tales deeming them unrealistic. The tales are not a true depiction of the real world. Her ironic representation of the poem compels the reader not to live in a fantasy world. Sexton also manages to incorporate a wide array of similes that depict the true nature of the aspects she was dwelling on. For instance, by perceiving the stepdaughters as “hearts like blackjacks,” she implies that were evil. The author consistently utilizes the various literary elements to enhance the poem.

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Works Cited

Fukuda, Shiho. "The Hesitancy of a Middle-aged Witch: Anne Sexton's Transformations." (2008): 31-47.

Lutz, Rosemary. "Cinderella's Social Transformations." (1999): 1-69.

Mohammed, Nadia Fayidh. "The Indecisive Feminist: Study of Anne Sexton's Revisionist Fairy Tales." Advances in Language and Literary Studies (2015): 31-39.

Robinson, Gwen. "The Cinderella complex: Punishment, society and community sanctions." (2016).

Sexton, Anne. Classic Poetry Series. PoemHunter, 2004.

Sharma, Neelam Dasgupta and Jyoti. "Anne Sexton’s Poetry Tested on the Axis of Elaine Showalter’s Gynocriticism." An International Journal in English 4.III (2013): 1-9.

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