Compare and Contrast (Poetry) Essay

Today, the role of the woman has changed in comparison with the past years. In spite of the fact that emancipation has started a long time ago, women still have problems regarding their role in the society. Women became more independent and free, they can achieve everything they want in every field of life, but they still feel the pressure of the stereotypes existing in the modern society. Physical appearance is still the most necessary requirement to achieve the success both in professional and personal life. Sexton’s and Piercy’s works are written in a very similar style and have almost the same root of sense, so it is possible to make a literature analysis of these two poems. Many authors of the modern literature are willing to recognize the role of a woman in today’s society, the stereotypes that rule them, and corresponds rules that put a pressure on women. The significant works as ‘Barbie Doll’ by Marge Piercy and ‘Cinderella’ by Anne Sexton, conclude such topics as role of a woman, female beauty, and love.

‘Cinderella’ is one of the most significant fairytales’ heroines. Anne Sexton’s ‘Cinderella’ differs a lot from well-known Disney heroine. In the popular version, Cinderella is a victim of her stepmother and stepsisters. She lost her mother when she was just a child, and with the help of fairy godmother, she gets a change to meet prince on the ball. Cinderella and prince fall in love, get married, and live happily for the rest of their life. Is it possible in the real life to have such ideal happy-ends? Is it possible to apply fairytale’s concept in the real life? Author of the story focuses on these questions. Sexton’s Cinderella is a dark and even comedic version of the well-known heroine. In the poem, the author uses different literary devices such as imagery, style, and tone. Sexton calls upon the reader to view the silliness of a traditional fairytale’s endings in comparison with the reality. In the fairytale version, Cinderella meets her decent and handsome prince, and at the end of the story, he finds her with the help of her beautiful little shoe. In Sexton’s version, their story of love has ironic and almost gothic tone. According to the imagery, such words as ‘axe’ and ‘amputation’ add darkness to rosy fantasies of the fairytale. Traditional fairytales were written in the Middle Ages, when the reality was not as fascinated and rosy as it was described in the fairytales. The reality was that princes were cruel and imperious, who always got everything they wanted using force. Women who were engaged with princes or kings felt pressure of their ego and were killed in the cruelest ways possible. Moreover, women of that time were not as emancipated as the modern women, and in very rare cases, they could marry for love. That time was very cruel and severe. Consequently, fairytales were a so-called ‘escape’ from reality for ordinary people. Nevertheless, do people still believe in fairytales and need to believe in the happy endings? Sometimes, the author uses even slang and vulgar style of writing, which fits well with the sense of the plot. In her poem, Sexton describes ball is a ‘marriage market’, and one of stepsisters ‘cut off her heel’ to wear a shoe:

“Next came the ball, as you all know.
It was a marriage market.
The prince was looking for a wife”.

‘Cinderella’ by Ann Sexton is an opposite side of the fiction story and a real version of the fairytale. The second poem is ‘Barbie Doll’, which was written by the American author Marge Piercy. In this poem, the author touches such topics as gender equality, the role of a woman in the modern society, and the stereotypes pressuring woman’s behavior. The literature style has some similarities with Anne Sexton’s ‘Cinderella’, where the author uses brutal language, so, this poem is very similar to the style of Sexton’s work. The author wrote the poem in four short stanzas, where she described the expectations and stereotypes that American culture places on children and especially young girls. The poem is about the funeral of Barbie Doll, who died because the society did not want to accept her imperfect appearance. Piercy shows how America presents ‘perfect’ woman. In the poem, the author describes a girl as “presented dolls that did pee-pee/ and miniature GE stoves and irons/ and wee lipsticks the color of cherry candy.” The poem shows a lack of self-esteem of the girl. The title of the poem is ‘Barbie Doll’, which is a perfect example of fake perfection.

It is certainly the case that “Cinderella” and “Barbie Doll” are dedicated to the same topic. To compare these two poems, it is possible to see that both authors touch the problems of a woman in the society. In both poems, the main heroine is showed as a passive and not active person in comparison with male heroes. Both works have a root of feminism and encourage women to change the stereotypes, which press on their life and personal development. Stereotypes of beauty and the role, which every woman should play, they should play a passive role in the society. In ’Cinderella’ by Ann Sexton, the author shows the dark reality of a woman’s life using such literature devices as metaphors and similes, which help to draw the picture of the real Cinderella’s story:

“The prince was getting tired.
He began to feel like a shoe salesman.
But he gave it one last try.
This time Cinderella fit into the shoe
like a love letter into its envelope”.

In the second poem, the author describes a dramatic story of a doll and the pressure of ‘perfect beauty’ stereotypes on young girls. Consequently, both authors are wiling to show the negative impact of these stereotypes of ‘fake beauty’ or ‘fake happy ends’.

In conclusion, ‘Cinderella’ by Anne Sexton and ‘Barbie Doll’ by Marge Piercy make a significant impact on the modern society, describing silly stereotypes of a ‘perfect woman’ and her role in a limited society. According to the modern society, women should follow such rules as ‘be perfect beauty’ or ‘play the passive role’, and these rules continue to press on women’s life. Those ‘rules’ can cause dramatic impacts, and limit the personal development. The authors of “Cinderella” and “Barbie Doll” view the traditional stereotypes from the other side. Both poems have depressive, and dark style of writing that reflects the reality of a woman’s destiny. “Cinderella” and “Barbie Doll” are the dark reflections of rosy fairytales.

Marge Piercy and Anne Sexton are significant authors of the modern poetry, whose works have an influential impact on every woman.