Study Guide

Cinderella Luxury Imagery

By Anne Sexton

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Luxury Imagery

Consumer goods, mostly for women (clothes, shoes, bags) are strewn throughout the poem and help anchor the speaker's cynicism about what money can really buy. The poem revolves around stuff, but in the end (as we can tell from Cinderella's doll-like fate), the stuff just doesn't matter.

  • Line 9: The "Dior" in this line is the first reference we have to luxury goods. Dior is an extraordinarily expensive designer and thus represents a whole collection of clothes, bags, jewels, and shoes—all of which cost hundreds or thousands of dollars each. 
  • Line 20: Here the reference to the department store Bonwit Teller acts as a kind of synecdoche, which is a big honking word that means a part referring to a whole or a whole referring to a part. Think of "one cannot live on bread alone," for example, where "bread" stands in for food more generally. In this case, Bonwit Teller is the whole (a high-end department store) that stands in for the expensive stuff it's filled with. 
  • Lines 60-61: In these lines, Cinderella's problem of how to get to the ball is solved by a gold dress and gold slippers. These items can be seen as markers of luxury and wealth that, at least for a time, seem to suggest that expensive stuff will solve all of our problems.
  • Line 76: This line sets up the entire next scene (the famous "trying on the shoe" scene). So really, if you think about it, the entire plot of the story rests on a golden slipper. It's the expensive, rich-people stuff that matters to the fairy tale, but as we know (go see the "Line by Line" section if you haven't already), Sexton's ending would like to assert otherwise.

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