Anne Sexton transforms the well-known fairytale Snow White into a sardonic piece of writing that reflects societal perceptions of the woman. In her poem she explores the idea that a woman is nothing more than a doll, something that sits pretty on a shelf for all to admire. She also describes the reliance on men, and how women are becoming dependent and incompetent. She counteracts this with a women’s intelligence compared to her beauty and vanity, and what a woman should be. She explores the idea of beauty and vanity going hand in hand, meaning that even princesses can be vain. Fairytales aren’t real, and they are overrated- happily ever after does not exist, especially for those who aren’t beautiful.
All fairytales have a female antagonist, and one that is usually a princess. Snow White is sexualized as the virgin.
Good Day Mama,
and shut for the thrust
of the unicorn.
She is unsoiled.
She is as white as a bonefish. (9-13)
This text explains that she innocent and untouched. All that matters to a prince is that she is beautiful and a virgin. A brand new doll with porcelain skin and glassy eyes.
cheeks as fragile as cigarette paper,
arms and legs made of Limoges,
lips like Vin Du Rhône,
rolling her china-blue doll eyes
open and shut. (3-7)
Sexton compares Snow White to a doll because she is merely an object for ones admiration and love. She is to be pampered and taken care of in return of sitting pretty on the shelf, to be admired. Beauty and vanity play the two-sided coin in this poem, you can’t have one without the other. The queen epitomizes vanity, when she asks the mirror who is the fairest of the land. When the reply is Snow White, she is outraged. Being the most beautiful person in the land is what the queen desires. She craves the attention because beauty is so valued, and Sexton makes that clear. If Snow White or the Queen weren’t beautiful, would anyone ever notice them? Sexton says, “Beauty is a simple passion.” Meaning everyone...
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