Conte Poem Analysis

1009 words 5 pages
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:
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The format reveals the depressing state of Cinderella’s situation, and how, in her despair, she learns about the real world. The diction gives a dark tone to the poem, creating a sense of Cinderella’s feelings in her new life. Cinderella sees the secrets as “petty” and she made “tedium” her virtue (5, 6, 25). This wording reveals boredom that is the center of Cinderella’s palace life. She makes her living on sewing and listening to people complain to her. The mistress “whined about the way she was mistreated” (10). Whine is not a refine action. Also, “appalling” is not what someone wants to hear about the plumbing anywhere (12). The prince “is forever brooding” (13), which is not a good sign for Cinderella’s marriage. Cinderella later reveals in her letter that she “despised” her stepsisters and has “scorn” their lifestyle (22, 24). A protagonist should not be revealing these harsh feelings about others to the reader, since protagonist are typically the good character. The poem italicizes certain words: “they,” “you,” and “not” (6, 8, 22, 17, 19). The stress on the pronouns shows the reader the smug undertone directed towards the people the pronouns have replaced. This stress gives the effect that she is complaining to the reader about her problems. The use of the italicized “not” emphasizes her inability to leave her life and move on to a better life (17, 19). The poem’s negative diction gives insight into Cinderella’s perspective as a princess,

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