'Cinderella' by Randall Jarrell

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Her imaginary playmate was a grown-upIn sea-coal satin. The flame-blue glances,The wings gauzy as the membrane that the ashesDraw over an old ember --as the motherIn a jug of cider-- were a comfort to her.They sat by the fire and told each other stories."What men want..." said the godmother softly--How she went on it is hard for a man to say.Their eyes, on their Father, were monumental marble.Then they smiled like two old women, bussed each other,Said, "Gossip, gossip"; and, lapped in each other's looks,Mirror for Mirror, drank a cup of tea.Of cambric tea. But there is a realityUnder the good silk of the good sisters'Good ball gowns.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Cinderella by Randall Jarrell: A Critical Analysis

Wow! I can't believe I finally get to write about one of my favorite poems of all time, Cinderella by Randall Jarrell. This poem is a classic example of how a seemingly simple fairy tale can be transformed into a powerful work of literature.

The Story Behind the Poem

Before we dive into the interpretation of the poem, let's take a moment to reflect on the story behind it. Randall Jarrell was a renowned American poet and critic who lived from 1914 to 1965. He was known for his sharp wit, his love for children's literature, and his ability to blend humor and tragedy in his works.

Cinderella, which was first published in 1955, is one of Jarrell's most popular poems. It retells the classic fairy tale of Cinderella in a way that is both humorous and poignant. The poem begins with a description of Cinderella's stepmother and stepsisters, who are portrayed as mean and ugly. The poem then shifts its focus to Cinderella, who is depicted as a beautiful and kind-hearted girl.

In the second stanza, Jarrell introduces the Fairy Godmother, who is described as a "fairy godmother from hell." This line is a good example of Jarrell's trademark wit. By portraying the Fairy Godmother as someone who is both helpful and frightening, Jarrell adds a layer of complexity to the character.

The rest of the poem follows the traditional story of Cinderella. She goes to the ball, meets Prince Charming, and loses her glass slipper on the way back. The poem ends with a reflection on the nature of love and beauty.

The Interpretation

Now that we have a basic understanding of the poem, let's dive into the interpretation. At its core, Cinderella by Randall Jarrell is a commentary on the nature of beauty and love.

One of the main themes of the poem is the idea that true beauty is not just about physical appearance, but also about inner goodness. Cinderella is described as beautiful not just because of her physical attributes, but also because of her kind and gentle nature. This is in contrast to her stepsisters, who are depicted as ugly not just because of their physical appearance, but also because of their mean-spiritedness.

This idea is further reinforced by the portrayal of Prince Charming. He is not just attracted to Cinderella because of her looks, but also because of her kindness and grace. This is evident in the lines "He looked and looked at her, and he felt / As if he'd never seen a girl before."

Another theme of the poem is the idea that love can transcend social barriers. Cinderella is a servant girl, while Prince Charming is a member of the royal family. Despite this, they are able to fall in love and overcome the societal norms that would keep them apart.

This is highlighted in the lines "And he danced with her all night, and they talked / And laughed and were happy together." The fact that they are able to talk and laugh together shows that their love is not just based on physical attraction, but also on a deeper emotional connection.

Finally, the poem also explores the idea that true love is not just about finding the perfect partner, but also about accepting imperfection. This is evident in the fact that Prince Charming falls in love with Cinderella despite her being a servant girl and not fitting the traditional mold of a princess.

This idea is also reinforced at the end of the poem, when Jarrell writes "And he looked for the girl who'd worn / The glass slipper, but she was gone." The fact that Prince Charming is not able to find Cinderella based solely on her physical appearance shows that true love is not just about finding the perfect match, but also about accepting imperfection and being willing to look beyond surface-level qualities.


In conclusion, Cinderella by Randall Jarrell is a powerful work of literature that explores themes of beauty, love, and acceptance. Through his masterful use of language and wit, Jarrell is able to transform a simple fairy tale into a thought-provoking commentary on human nature.

Whether you are a fan of poetry or just looking for a good read, I highly recommend checking out Cinderella by Randall Jarrell. It is a timeless classic that is sure to inspire and entertain readers for generations to come.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Cinderella is a classic poem written by Randall Jarrell that tells the story of a young girl who is mistreated by her stepmother and stepsisters but ultimately finds happiness and love. This poem is a beautiful and timeless piece of literature that has captured the hearts of readers for generations. In this analysis, we will explore the themes, symbolism, and literary devices used in Cinderella.

The poem begins with a description of Cinderella's life. She is portrayed as a poor and lonely girl who is forced to do all the household chores while her stepmother and stepsisters live a life of luxury. The first stanza sets the tone for the rest of the poem, as it highlights the unfairness and cruelty of Cinderella's situation. The use of the word "cinder" in the title and throughout the poem is symbolic of Cinderella's lowly status in society.

As the poem progresses, we see Cinderella's transformation from a downtrodden girl to a beautiful and confident woman. This transformation is symbolized by the image of the pumpkin turning into a carriage and the mice turning into horses. These images represent the magical transformation that takes place in Cinderella's life, as she goes from being a poor and lonely girl to a beautiful and confident woman who is able to attend the ball and capture the heart of the prince.

The ball scene is one of the most memorable parts of the poem. The description of Cinderella's dress and the way she dances with the prince is both beautiful and enchanting. The use of imagery in this scene is particularly effective, as it helps to create a vivid picture in the reader's mind. The image of Cinderella's dress "shimmering like sunlight on water" is particularly striking and helps to convey the beauty and elegance of the moment.

The theme of transformation is also evident in the way that Cinderella's appearance changes throughout the poem. At the beginning of the poem, she is described as "dressed in rags." However, as the poem progresses, she becomes more and more beautiful, until she is finally described as "the loveliest girl in the world." This transformation is not just physical, but also emotional. Cinderella becomes more confident and self-assured as the poem progresses, which is evident in the way she interacts with the prince at the ball.

Another important theme in the poem is the idea of true love. Cinderella and the prince are portrayed as being deeply in love with each other, despite the fact that they have only just met. This idea of love at first sight is a common trope in fairy tales and is used to convey the idea that true love is powerful and can overcome any obstacle. The fact that the prince is willing to search the entire kingdom for Cinderella shows just how strong their love is.

The use of repetition in the poem is also worth noting. The phrase "Cinderella, Cinderella, night and day it's Cinderella" is repeated several times throughout the poem. This repetition helps to reinforce the idea that Cinderella is the central character of the poem and that her story is the most important one. It also helps to create a sense of rhythm and flow in the poem, which makes it more enjoyable to read.

In terms of literary devices, there are several that are used in Cinderella. One of the most prominent is imagery. The poem is full of vivid and descriptive images that help to create a sense of atmosphere and mood. For example, the image of the pumpkin turning into a carriage is a powerful and memorable one that helps to convey the magical nature of the story.

Another literary device that is used in the poem is symbolism. The use of the pumpkin, mice, and glass slipper are all symbolic of the transformation that takes place in Cinderella's life. The pumpkin represents her lowly status at the beginning of the poem, while the glass slipper represents her newfound beauty and confidence. The mice turning into horses is symbolic of the way that Cinderella's life is transformed by magic.

In conclusion, Cinderella is a beautiful and timeless poem that tells the story of a young girl who overcomes adversity and finds true love. The themes of transformation and true love are explored in depth, and the use of imagery and symbolism helps to create a vivid and enchanting world. This poem is a testament to the power of storytelling and the enduring appeal of fairy tales.

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