"When The Clock Strikes": A Summary Of Tanith Lee's Retelling Of The Children's Classic Cinderella Tale.

2139 words - 9 pages

"Cinderella" is perhaps the most recognized fairy tale in history, one of the few that spans across generations and cultures. Every prominent culture in the world tells some similar version of this story of a poor girl going from rags to riches; over 700 versions have been accounted for worldwide. In America, numerous authors have penned their own version of the classic folktale. One of these is Tanith Lee, a prolific writer of stories for young adults. Lee cleverly found a way to include all of the traditional elements of the classic "Cinderella" tale, but added a new twist: Cinderella, or the character similar to her in this story, had malicious intentions for the prince, and her purpose throughout the tale was a malevolent one: revenge.The story is cleverly related through a first person narrator, who is supposedly retelling the story to a person waiting for a carriage, the reader. Lee cleverly has the narrator pause throughout the story, commenting on the tale so far or asking the reader questions. He begins the story by describing a classic ebony grandfather clock, with porcelain figures replacing the numbers on the face. The characters aged as you went clock-wise around the face, ending with the figure of Death at the top. The narrator explains how people thought the clock unlucky, and that death would truly strike someone one day along with the clock. He goes back 200 years, explaining how there was much intrigue and suspicion in the Duke's court. Rumors swirled that he had obtained his title and the city by treacherously having those who were in line to the throne murdered by assassins. However, additional rumors claimed that he had neglected to find one last heir, a woman, who was a descendant from the rival noble house. The narrator goes on to confirm the rumor of the descendant, and he states that she was "seething with bitter spite and a hunger for vengeance."Long ago, this descendant had wed a wealthy silk merchant in the city for her safety and disguise, and bore him a daughter. But the woman, unbeknownst to her husband, had sworn allegiance to Satanas, and took part in the Black Mass. She would often go up to a tower adjacent to her house and practice witchcraft against the Duke. The Duke, in a constant state of agony and fearing death near, named his 16-year-old son his heir, whom he loved very much. The witch knew this, and plotted to eliminate the prince, preferably in the presence of his loving father.At this time, the narrator adds that the witch was not alone in her plotting. Indeed, she had a helper in her black magic, her own daughter, who became well versed in the Black Arts. The narrator then goes on to describe the beauty of the daughter, and her closeness to her mother.At this point, the plot thickens when the narrator explains that the silk merchant began to mistrust his daughter, for she was very different from other girls, always reading and never concerning herself with marriage, clothes, or jewelry. Though being...

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