Study Guide

Cinderella Wealth

By Anne Sexton

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The entire poem of "Cinderella" hinges on wealth, really. It, and women's pursuit of it, are the major thematic elements of the piece. The example "Cinderella stories" (sarcastically called "that story" over and over again) all involve cold, hard, skrilla, and Cinderella gets to the ball by way of having beautiful, presumably pricey clothing (even though, of course, she gets it magically and for free). When the stepsisters get riches and jewels, Cinderella gets a twig (gee, thanks)—which signifies that her life is awful. Marrying the prince is of utmost importance for everyone, and not, according to the poem, because the prince is handsome. Being married to a prince is almost always associated with having all kinds of dollar, dollar bills y'all—not necessarily being married to someone you actually love. So throughout "Cinderella," the theme of wealth is used to illustrate how incredibly superficial people can be and the crazy things that money propels some people to do.

Questions About Wealth

  1. How is wealth measured in this poem? 
  2. How do you think the poem elaborates on the old adage "money doesn't buy you happiness"?
  3. What might you say about the narrator's view of money based on the poem?
  4. How are money and marriage tied together in this poem?

Chew on This

What's love got to do with it? The pointed phrase "marriage market" (42) sheds light on the poem's view of marriage as an economic arrangement.

"Wealthy" in "Cinderella" might be seen as a synonym for "soulless." Ouch.

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