Conte Poem Analysis

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Lenae Gomez
ENG 110.3
Professor Unger
February 11, 2013
Au Contraire
In “Conte” by Marilyn Hacker, Cinderella shows the reader a glimpse of her life after the childhood tale ends, a less happier ending than the original story implies. She feels trapped in a constant state of misery and boredom in the royal palace. Without life experience guiding her, Cinderella is in a dilemma caused by her ignorance of the potential consequences of her actions. With the use of irony, structure, and diction, “Conte” shows how innocence and naïveté result in regrettable mistakes that create life experience.

The poem deviates from the basic fairy tale through the use of ironic predicaments. Cinderella makes a bold statement from the beginning: “First of all, I’m bored” (1). She misses her old life of feeling useful through cleaning. As a princess, she sits around all day listening to complaints and sewing. The mistress tells her problems to Cinderella. Cinderella agrees that the mistress is being mistreated, even though Cinderella herself was mistreated. Mistreatment should not be a major dilemma in a fairy tale. Cinderella also writes, “The plumbing is appalling” (12). A palace with crumby plumbing is the last thing expected in a fairy tale palace. The prince is also causing conflict. Cinderella writes, “he is forever brooding on lost choices he might have made; before / three days had passed. I’d heard, midnight to dawn, / about the solitary life he craved” (13-16). The prince wanted to find a bride, yet he regrets the decisions he made. From midnight to dawn, Cinderella listens to him crave for his single life back. Like midnight in the original tale, the happily ever after ends and the real world begins as the prince shows his true self through his thoughts after midnight. The state of affairs in the palace show the mundane life that Cinderella experiences everyday. The irony within the poem refutes the perfect fairy tale and reveals Cinderella’s mistake of believing...
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