The House on Mango Street is a novel by Sandra Cisneros that comprises of both short poems and narratives about a young Latina girl, Esperanza Cordero who aspires for more in her life that the poverty that she and her family have been subjected to all her life. She dreams of a Prince Charming who would sweep her off her feet and take her to a happy and rich lifestyle. In this manner, The House on Mango Street’s heroine, Esperanza is likened to Cinderella who dreams up of the same things to run away from her step mother and step sisters. However, there are differences in the attitude of Cinderella and Esperanza and this would be explored in this paper in detail.
The most important similarity that one may find between both the heroines is the yearning for a better life. Esperanza yearns for a life that is similar to the one of Sally where she is taken away from the impoverished neighborhood and has her own money to spend on items that she likes. In the same way, Cinderella dreams up of a prince who would take her away from the life that she has been confined to due to the cruelty of her stepmother and stepsisters.
Another similarity that one can draw up from both the stories is the domestic work that needs to be done by the heroines all the time. In Esperanza’s case, the males and females of the household are divided as she says ‘the boys and girls live in separate worlds’ (Cisneros 8). This shows that the females are confined to work at home while the males roam at large. In the same way, the female protagonist, Cinderella is also confined to domestic drudgery and cannot escape it.
A third similarity that one may find is that the definition of a suitable wife is defined by the shoes and feet of the women. In Esperanza’s case, this is obvious when she says, ‘Hurray! Today we are Cinderella because your feet fit’ (Cisneros 40). Small feet have been traditionally considered to be a symbol of beauty and this symbol has been used in both the stories. In Cinderella, it is her shoes that finally give her the position that she deserves. It was Cinderella’s feet that were able to fit in the shoe and no one else’s and while Cisneros uses this concept from Cinderella, the fitting of the shoe is important in the Latina family in which Esperanza is brought up.
However, these two stories are different in their use of the nature of the character. Cinderella has been shown as true virtuous character and one could liken her to a fairy. However, Esperanza is more humane in her nature. Esperanza has yearning of a normal girl that one may not be able to find in Cinderella. This may be because the characters were meant to appeal to a different age and audience. Cinderella was meant for the young girls who could take example from such a nice lady while Esperanza is a character that girls can relate to. Every girl would be able to connect with Esperanza and feel empathy towards her at one point or another.
Unlike Cinderella, Esperanza has female companions who she shares her thoughts with. These female companions, though misguided, often enlighten Esperanza towards the outside world, such as when Esperanza says “I like to be with you, Sally. You’re my friend” (Cisneros 99). However, Cinderella only has animals such as mice and cats to call her friends; friends who do not share anything with her but are there to help Cinderella during her time of need.
The two stories, The House on Mango Street and Cinderella, have certain themes in common having been written about females who yearn for a better life and the similarity ends at the point in the treatment of the characters at the hands of their authors.
Cisneros, Sandra. The House on Mango Street. New York: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2004, Print