Essay Sample: Explication of the Cinderella Story

Published: 2023-04-19
Essay Sample: Explication of the Cinderella Story
Type of paper:  Critical thinking
Categories:  Poem Research Analysis
Pages: 8
Wordcount: 1980 words
17 min read

Poetry is among the most popular form of literature that has been in existence for centuries. Additionally, poetry is a form of written literature art, which relies on the interplay of words and rhythm in the delivery of a story or hidden meaning. The Cinderella is among the most historically renowned poem, which was authored and created by Anne Sexton. The Cinderella literally text is a poem engineered by a range of stylistic devices in its composition. The following is an analysis of Sexton's Cinderella poem that focuses on the composition's title, stanzas, themes, sound-check, plot's setting, tough-o-meter, speaker, steaminess rating, as well as luxury imaging. Cinderella is among the globally renowned poems that illustrate that luck can change a person's plight from a state of deprivation to a state of abundance in life.

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Brief Author's Description

Sexton's birth names were Anne G. Harvey. She was born in Newton, Massachusetts 1928 and died at age 45 in 1974 (Kumar and Gale 341). Additionally, Harvey was an American poet and she adopted her name Sexton from her husband after marriage. Today, Sexton is known for her exemplary poetry works such as Cinderella, which is a poem retelling the story of a poor girl - Cinderella, who gets married by a prince to secure a happy ever after. The following research will be focused on providing a comprehensive critical analysis of the Cinderella poem based on the stylistic devices used for the project.

Poem Analysis


Sexton used a single word title 'Cinderella' in the composition of her poem. The single word title focuses the attention of the audience to a single character who is the protagonist in the poem. Historically, the term 'Cinderella' has always been used to refer to a mythical fictional character that rises from an unjust state of oppression to a triumphant end that is marked with vast rewards. The title is significant for the poem as it prepares the audience of the work into understanding that the plot will focus on a story of a person (preferably a girl - since Cinderella is a female's name) who will triumph amid odds to achieve glory or success.

The chosen title of the poem is also captivating to its targeted audience, as it appeals to the interest of the audience in seeking to know what happens to the protagonist of the poem - Cinderella. The premise is true because, in the past, there has been a range of other literary texts and videos published with the same title and illustrating a closely related theme. For instance, portraits created to represent the story of Cinderella dates back to the 17th century, with the creation of Cendrillon painting by Laurette Jean-Louis (1949) being the first proof of the title "Cinderella's" existence.


There Cinderella's poem has a total of 10 stanzas. However, the stanzas are heterometric or quasi-stanzaic. Additionally, that is because all the stanzas have an uneven length as well as an irregular pattern of the poem's fluid form. Particularly, the first, second, fourth and ninth stanzas have five lines each. Contrary, the third stanza has six lines while the fifth stanza has 19 lines ("Cinderella by Anne Sexton" 1). The sixth stanza has 15 lines while the seventh stanza has 12 lines ("Cinderella by Anne Sexton" 1). On the other hand, the eighth stanza has 27 lines while the tenth stanza has 10 lines.

The use of a heterometric stanza pattern in Sexton's poem helps in grouping sections or ideas of the poem. In this case, the use of the stated stylistic device enabled Sexton to arrange different related sections of the poem together in a group. Also, the arrangement of the poem's stanzas in a group is also an aspect that can help presenters of the composition to recite the poem easily during a presentation. As a result, this makes the poem easy to read and understand, and it is also a phenomenon that has elevated the quality of Cinderella's poem composition.


Several themes can be cited by Sexton's poem, Cinderella. Examples of such themes include women and femininity, wealth, supernatural, luck as well as good versus evil. Under the women and femininity theme, the poem's narrator has created a cynical overview of womanhood, where the women in the poem do anything to get a husband. For instance, in the second stanza, the nursemaid uses her good looks to get ahead in the competition for a husband. Also, in the fifth stanza, Cinderella uses the white dove to seek her beauty and marry the prince.

The theme of wealth has also been portrayed substantially in the plot's composition. Arguably, the entire composition of the plot has been hinged on wealth and women's pursuit of achieving it. In the poem, Cinderella attends the gala with - a presumably, beautiful and pricey attire. Yet, in stanza five, she gets a twig while her stepsisters get jewelry to attend the ball. The sharp contrast between a twig and jewelry as tools to attend a wedding betrays the theme of material possession or wealth in the poem's composition. Also, the ultimate goal in the poem's composition is to marry the prince, who is largely cited for her wealth instead of looks.

The theme of the supernatural has also been manifested extensively in the composition of the poem, Cinderella. In Cinderella, the mystical tree and magical bird are Cinderella's enchanted companions. Apparently, as indicated by line 25 of the poem, Cinderella is a "good" as well as "devout" young lady. As such, all things considered, perhaps she deserved extraordinary assistance. However, it evident that Cinderella would be nothing right now was it not for the consistent intervention by magic. Additionally, the poem utilizes the supernatural as a sort of expanded metaphor that portrays how disappointing the Cinderella stories really are. For all intents and purposes, everything is given for nothing to Cinderella as the champion of the sonnet, with no work required on her part.

The theme of good versus evil is also evident in the poem Cinderella. Pretty much every fairy story includes a fight between goodness and evil, and the poem Cinderella is no exemption. The fascinating part about the poem is the manner in which Sexton retells the story, where, it is not exactly clear if Cinderella - the protagonist is impeccably good. However, it is positively obvious that she is not bad since she is depicted as a kind of passive young woman. Nevertheless, it is quite clear that there is a range of terrible bad or evil phenomena that Cinderella experiences in the poem. In this case, Cinderella's mother dies, which is bad sad or evil while her stepfamily mistreats her, which is evil.

The theme of luck has also been manifested in the plot of the poem's composition. In this case, the poem Cinderella has been developed with a tone of somewhat sarcastic anger as well as bitterness about persons who attain good things for nothing. Additionally, this is a stated of what every person wants, which is to win a lottery, to get marry a rich partner, as well as to never have the worry of having money ever again. In this case, Cinderella is blessed in having multiple good fortunes that are aided by the presence of a magical tree and a white dove. In this depiction, Sexton wants to imply to the audience that people's notions of luck, as well as fortune in the poem's plot, are misguided. Additionally, that is by portraying that even having everything people desire does not guarantee them happiness in their lives.


The one thing that describes the sound of Cinderella's poem is its straightforward prose. Actually, if it was not for the liberal seasoning of the plot's composition with a number of similes throughout the composition of the text, it could be considered to be almost a prose. Additionally, the sentences employed in the composition of the poem are clear as well as short in most parts, which gives the whole poem a more or less clipped tone. Moreover, the tone used by Sexton in the composition of the poem makes the narrator appear remarkably down-to-earth and a person who does not entertain nonsense. For instance, the refrain in the poem "that story" is employed as a whole sentence in the text. The composed statement is short, definitive as well as to the point, just like in all other parts of the poem.

Plot Setting

Most of the poem Cinderella has been set in a generic fictional world of fantasy or fairy tales. The story of Cinderella was initially authored in Italian. However, other people believe that myth first originated from ancient Greece. However, in Sexton's composition, it can be presumed that the poem's plot is set in the form of an alternate reality in Italy. Also, the poem illustrates that it is set in a land that is firmly gripped by a monarchy leadership, as evidenced by the presence of a prince, who has very strict class social-economic class rules. In this case, it is evident that the have-nots or the poor in the society are mandated to sleep in the ashes or in a remarkably poor state of life. Also, the setting of the poem Cinderella illustrates a social setting where money seems to be a solution to all problems in life affecting the public.


In order for a poem to be well understood, it is imperative for an author to use the right choice of words in the composition of the plot. Additionally, the poem Cinderella is not difficult to understand. Additionally, that is especially for persons who are familiar with the origins of the Cinderella story cited by Grimm's versions of the folktale. Additionally, the era of Sexton's Cinderella composition seems to be ancient, in terms of the story's composition and choice of words. However, its whole poem still remains in the realm of comprehensible, which means even a slow reader, can understand the meaning of the poem.


The speaker of the poem of Cinderella is Sexton and she uses the first-person narration. In the narration of the poem, Sexton appears to be a grumpy realist who seems too fond of the narrative she is telling through poetry. Additionally, in the poem, it is evident that Sexton is aware that she narrating a story that most people have heard before. However, she tends to make the narrative to appear as if it is not what most people know about the composition and its narration. Also, the speaker of the poem appears to be someone who is much older an individual who knows about hardships. Also, the speakers appear to be an individual who appears to be bitter as well as cynical but trying to hide this side of her personality.

Steaminess Rating

For a story of romance, love, and marriage, the Cinderella poem is free of sexually explicit content that could be unsuitable for young readers. For instance, after being married by the prince, Cinderella does not consummate her marriage in the plot. Additionally, the estimated parental guidance (PG) rating of the poem can be classified as a PG-10. Subsequently, this means that even young readers at the early stages of their life can entertain themselves by reading the poem. As a romantic and a low-level age rating piece of literary work, Sexton managed to scale up the popularity of the poem, especially among the young generation.

Luxury Imagery

The theme of luxury imagery can also be strongly manifested in the poem Cinderella. Additionally, that is because consumer goods like clothes, bags, and shoes have to a large extent strewn all over the poem in order to facilitate in anchoring Sexton's cynicism in reference to what money can purchase. In line 9 of the poem, the narrator uses the term "Dior" which in the current contemporary day society is a remarkably expensive designer that is recognized for its designer clothes, jewelry, bags, and shoes.

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