Imagery In Emma Donoghue's The Tale Of The Shoe

750 Words 3 Pages
The Tale of a Modern Fairy Tale

In Emma Donoghue’s The Tale of the Shoe, the classic Cinderella tale gets put under the microscope; the author tests the way the reader views the classic fairy tale. Donoghue challenges and dismantles perhaps overused fairy tale archetypes by using vivid imagery, figurative language, and specific word choices throughout the work. By retelling the Cinderella story in this manner, Donoghue is able to force the reader to be critical of fairy tales and create a fresh story for new audiences.

The strategic imagery that Emma Donoghue uses throughout The Tale of the Shoe creates layers on top of previous images used in the piece. The imagery that the author uses often creates a sense of discord; that something
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A sample of this figurative language is, “I swallowed a little of everything I was offered, then leaned over the balcony and threw it all up again,” (Donoghue, 6). The author does not literally mean that the speaker has thrown up what she ingested. The author uses the concept of throwing up in a different sense; this line shows the speaker taking in the ball, the prince, and other fairy tale notions and then declining them. In original versions of the tale the Cinderella character enjoys the ball, in this version the speaker rejects it. The narrator’s rejection of the time honoured elements of a Cinderella story mirrors the author’s denial of the predictable fairy …show more content…
One example of this word choice can be seen in the following sentence, “That night my new skin was red silk shivering in the breeze,” (Donoghue, 6). The use of the word shivering creates a feeling of being cold and detached, whereas a ball should be warm and inviting. Furthermore, careful word choice can be found in the line “I opened my teeth but no sound came out,” (Donoghue, 7). The use of “teeth” as opposed to “mouth” or “lips” seems strange and almost unnerving; this echoes the narrator’s discomfort with the situation. The fact that the narrator feels uncomfortable is vastly unlike how the Cinderella character feels in the original story. An additional example of careful phrasing can be seen in the following expression, “comfortable as fog,” (Donoghue, 7). In literature fog often becomes a foreboding symbol, thus using the words “comfortable” and “fog” in the same sentence creates juxtaposition; it destroys the idea that the proposal is comfortable. All of the examples listed above were carefully chosen in order to make the reader question what the speaker was actually saying; negative language was used with images in fairy tales that are often portrayed as

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