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World Authors Project - Sylvia Plath

Imagery Analysis

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"Cinderella" by Sylvia Plath
The prince leans to the girl in scarlet heels,
Her green eyes slant, hair flaring in a fan
Of silver as the rondo slows; now reels
Begin on tilted violins to span

The whole revolving tall glass palace hall
Where guests slide gliding into light like wine;
Rose candles flicker on the lilac wall
Reflecting in a million flagons' shine,

And glided couples all in whirling trance
Follow holiday revel begun long since,
Until near twelve the strange girl all at once
Guilt-stricken halts, pales, clings to the prince

As amid the hectic music and cocktail talk
She hears the caustic ticking of the clock.


"Cinderella" Imagery Analysis
In the poem "Cinderella," Plath uses visual and auditory imagery to set a slow and romantic, yet haunting tone.
First, Plath creates a ballroomlike romantic atmosphere, similar to that in the fairy tale Cinderella. Plath uses color to set the scene. She describes "scarlet heels," "green eyes," and "silver" to entrance the reader into the setting. She paints a picture of beauty and light when describing "rose candles" and a "lilac wall." Plath creates a pleasant auditory image amid the "music" and "cocktail talk."
But in the midst of all the beauty, Plath sets a haunting tone of sadness and desperation using the same imagery devices. Cinderella's expression "pales" and becomes "guilt stricken." The clock begins to chime caustically, as if ticking away the time for Cinderella and her prince.
The poem fits perfectly with Plath's general theme of feminism. Even under the perfect mask of Cinderella, she is still a woman, and the prince will one day be untrue and unfaithful just like Plath's husband and father. It is just a matter of when the clock ceases to chime. 



World Authors Project - Sylvia Plath - Sarah Zemach