Critique of Morrison's "Cinderella's Stepsisters"

Topics: Woman, Gender, Women's rights Pages: 3 (1004 words) Published: April 18, 2011
In the excerpt “Cinderella’s Stepsisters” taken from a persuasive speech given at Barnard College, Toni Morrison encourages her audience of entirely females to avoid the disdainful character shown by the stepmother and stepsisters in the fairy tale, “Cinderella.” Morrison, a novelist, editor, and professor, primarily focuses on African American Literature. Though much of her writing focuses on black women, Morrison does not claim her pieces as feminist. However, I believe that this speech declares otherwise.

Morrison delivers this address in order to persuade her female spectators not to behave toward other women of society in a way of domination and cruelty, as did Cinderella’s stepsisters. While doing so, she uses examples from the story and relates them to real world actions of violence among women, affirms women’s rights, and urges for the spread of her cause against such harmful actions towards other females. Morrison asserts, “I want not to ask you but to tell you not to participate in the oppression of your sisters” (Morrison 2).

In the opening of the selection, Morison claims that she feels a sense of urgency to discuss and relate to this story, specifically the main character, Cinderella. She describes the story as troubling, for it is fundamentally a story of a “household … of women gathered together and held together in order to abuse another woman” (1). Morrison states that it is the stepsisters who catch her attention. She envisions that their mother’s scornfulness towards another girl must have caused instability in the raising of the two stepsisters, for this only set a poor example that the two girls would follow.

Morrison speaks of her curiosity about the destiny of the two stepsisters after the story’s ending. She refers to description of the young women, and that they were considered of very high status and authority. She questions the future of the sisters, who having witnessed and contributed to such cruel behavior towards another...
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