Dorothy Parker's Bold and Controversial Legacy and Writing Style

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Dorothy Parker’s poems in The Portable Dorothy Parker vary from humorous commentary on romance to social critique, but her format holds on to the rigidity of older styles. While several writers choose this time period to step outside of the normal confines of writing norms, Parker retains a vintage format of strict end-rhymes and polished line lengths. Her use of comedic devices lines up with the typical craft choices that emerged in the twentieth century; however, her approach is much different than anything else of her time. She creates a tension between several dimensions—gender and expectations, format and content, humor and serious issues—that makes her work so complex.
Parker’s defiance of her gender’s norms in her poems creates a very interesting tension within and outside of her work. She is very much set against taking the expected route of female writers. According to Julia Boissoneau Hans in her article, “Whose Line is it Anyways? Reclamation of Language in Dorothy Parker’s Polyphonic Monologues,” Parker ignored stereotypes “both in her subject matter and in her writing style: she wrote openly about taboo topics …when it wasn’t deemed proper for a lady to speak of such things, never mind write about them in influential magazines” (100). Parker was not the typical, non-provoking female voice. During this time period, women were not expected to make social critiques in The New Yorker, but were supposed to be involved in the proper culture that focused on household happenings. She steps outside of accepted protocol and raises a lot of controversy in her approach, writing about suicide, love, racial inequality, and abortion, all while “being unafraid to make her readers uneasy or angry” (100). Parker does not comply or try...

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... the norms and typical characterizations for writers of her time. Her poems create tension through their friction between style and content, as well as stereotypes and defiance, which retains the complexity of Dorothy Parker.

Works Cited

Guriel, Jason. "Dorothy Parker's Perfect Contempt." Poetry 198.1 (2011): 61-68. MasterFILE Premier. Web. 3 Nov. 2013.
Hans, Julia Boissoneau. "Whose Line Is It Anyway? Reclamation of Language In Dorothy Parker's Polyphonic Monologues." Studies In American Humor 3.17 (2008): 99-116. Humanities International Complete. Web. 30 Oct. 2013.
Keyser, Catherine. “Robert Benchley and Dorothy Parker ‘In Broadway Playhouses’: Middlebrow Theatricality and Sophisticated Humour.” Modernist Cultures 6.1 (2011): 121-154. Web. 30 Oct. 2013.
Parker, Dorothy. The Portable Dorothy Parker. Ed. Marion Meade. New York: Penguin, 1944. 76-239. Print.

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