Ambiguity In The Monument By Elizabeth Bishop

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In The Monument by Elizabeth Bishop ambiguity is crucial to the audience's perception of the monument. Bishop refrains from telling the audience the meaning of the monument in order to maintain the theme of ambiguity. By using ambiguity Bishop allows her audience to develop their own interpretation of the monument. The text begins with, “Now can you see the monument? It is of wood/ built somewhat like a box. No. Built/ like several boxes in descending sizes/ one above the other.”(line 1) The narrator starts off the poem by telling the audience to look at the monument with the statement, “Now can you see the monument?” It is important that the audience is fully aware of the monument as it is the main focus of the poem and requires close attention.…show more content…
In the text Bishop states, “The monument is one-third set against/ a sea; two thirds against a sky.” (line 18) It is suggested that the monument is one with nature. The narrator goes on to state, “A sea of narrow, horizontal boards/lies out behind our lonely monument,/its long grains alternating right and left/like floor-boards--spotted, swarming-still,/and motionless.” Here the author personifies the monument by describing it as “swarming-still”. The phrase swarming-still is contradictory because an object cannot move and be still at the same time. The narrator personifies the monument as to express its life-like qualities. The location of the monument is never stated. A second voice joins the poem and questions the location of their presence, “‘Where are we? Are we in Asia Minor,/ Or in Mongolia?’” (line 33) Without knowledge on the location of the monument it is difficult to know what it means. The narrator ponders on what the monuments purpose is, “An ancient promontory,/ an ancient principality whose artist-prince/ might have wanted to build a monument/ to mark a tomb or boundary, or make/ a melancholy or romantic scene of it…” (line 35) The narrator herself is unsure of who created the monument or why. This pushes the audience to develop their own perceptions as the narrator brainstorms about its significance. A voice separate from the narrator states, “‘But that queer sea looks made of wood,/half-shining,like a driftwood sea./And the sky looks wooden, grained with cloud./ It’s like a stage-set; it is all so flat!/Those clouds are full of glistening splinters!/What is that?’”(line 40) This voice questions the scenery surrounding the monument. The narrator states that, “It is the monument” This implies that the narrator perceives the surrounding environment to be part of the monument itself. Another voice says, “‘Why did you bring me here to see

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