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Quotes

Quote #1

Be devout. Be good. Then I will smile
down from heaven in the seam of a cloud. (25-26)

As Cinderella's mother is dying, she promises her that if she remains "devout" and "good," she will "smile down from heaven." This is just a way of saying that Cinderella will receive blessings. Contained in this little passage is the implication that the good are inherently rewarded and the evil are not. As we know, the fairy tale bears this out, but real life is far less certain.

Quote #2

The man took another wife who had
two daughters, pretty enough
but with hearts like blackjacks.
Cinderella was their maid. (27-30)

If Cinderella is the "good guy" in this story, it needs a "bad guy" to be a classic fairy tale. So we have the stepsisters, with "hearts like blackjacks," and their evil mother. They make Cinderella their maid, which is a pretty mean thing to do to a family member, really. This sets up a really obvious good and evil dichotomy (opposition). There's no confusing good for bad here; it's pretty black and white.

Quote #3

Cinderella begged to go too.
Her stepmother threw a dish of lentils
into the cinders and said: Pick them
up in an hour and you shall go. (46-49)

All Cinderella wants here is to go to the prince's ball. But her stepmother, being the evil woman she is, doesn't just say "no." Instead she gives her an impossible task and a "maybe." That's more evil, we think, than just saying no. It gives Cinderella a little bit of hope, which the stepmother (as you'll see here in a minute) cruelly takes away.

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