Harlem Dancer Poem Analysis

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Sonnets is a type of poetry that originated in Italy. There are many different types of sonnets, such as the Shakespearean sonnet, Petrarchan sonnet, and the Spenserian sonnet. Despite their differences, these sonnets share some similarities. “Harlem Dancer” by Claude McKay and “In an Artist’s Studio” by Christina Rossetti share many similarities and differences such as the form, the portrayal of women, and the way the woman is objectified. McKay’s poem, “Harlem Dancer” is a sonnet, as well as Rossetti’s poem, “In an Artist’s Studio”. Both McKay and Rossetti’s sonnets follow an identical structure, containing fourteen lines, and a rhyming couplet. “Harlem Dancer” and “In an Artist’s Studio” are both sonnets and contain rhyme schemes; however,…show more content…
In Rossetti’s poem “In an Artist’s Studio”, she illustrates a man in the art studio surrounded around his canvases. On each of his canvases, he has painted the same woman in different positions, as depicted in, “One selfsame figure sits or walks or leans” (Rossetti 104). This man continuously paints the same women, each time depicting her differently as demonstrated, “A saint, and angel…” (Rossetti 104). Similarly, in McKay’s poem he illustrates for the readers, a dark skinned, half clothed woman dancing. Both of these poems focus on how men view women, and how men idealize women for their beauty, or some other desirable part of them. Both of these poets express that men do not appreciate the wholeness and complexity of both of these women. McKay’s idealized woman is also a woman of colour, which may lead into a discussion of race gender, and sexuality. In Rossetti’s poem, the artist “feeds upon” (Rossetti 104) the object of his affection, “not as she is, but as she fills his dreams” (Rossetti 104). Also, McKay’s narrator idealizes her physical beauty and describes how everyone “devoured” her beauty, even though “her self was not in that strange place” (McKay 18). The main difference is that McKay’s narrator sees his desired woman as having “grown lovelier for passing through a storm” (McKay 18), whereas Rossetti’s artist uses his art to wash away the pain-and by extension, the…show more content…
McKay’s uses the art of dance and fashion to allure the men and women. He chose to have the woman dancing sensually and half clothed, to capture everyone’s attention. By having the woman portrayed this way, it signifies her worth. Similarly, Rossetti uses art to objectify women, however, she uses the art of painting and fashion as well. “In an Artist’s Studio”, he objectifies the woman by painting her the way he sees her, not the way she actually is; In doing this, it is symbolizing that woman are controlled. McKay’s Shakespearean sonnet, and Rossetti’s Petrarchan sonnet share many similarities and differences. McKay and Rossetti’s poems are both sonnets, however, the type of sonnets categorize the two poems differently. Portrayal of women in the two sonnets are similar, however, McKay treats the woman more humanely than Rossetti. The objectification of woman is done through the form of art, but both poets chose to use different forms of
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