In the Park by Gwen Hardwood Essay

In the Park by Gwen Hardwood Essay

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Harwood’s “In the Park” describes the bitter frustration of the role of an unidentifiable mother depicted by society. A park creates an image of a relaxing setting, with the isolation of benches and individuals happily strolling about. However, Gwen Harwood’s Petrarchan sonnet, “In the Park”, illustrates the park as a depressing, lonely, and negative atmosphere. The mother’s destruction of identity is renowned through the symbol of time as well as this negative and gloomy imagery. The mother’s frustrations of the societal expectations of motherhood have led to the destruction of her personal identity. Harwood uses the symbol of time to recognize that the mother’s life has become tiring, boring and repetitive and portrays the life of this mother through disconsolate and depressing tones. Harwood also plays with literal and figurative matters in order to exaggerate the use of this imagery.
Harwood’s symbol of time distinguishes the destruction of identity, presenting that time has inflicted failures that led to regret. In the first quatrain the woman’s clothes are described as “out of date” (1) as the first symbol of time. This is used to imply that the mother’s life has been overtaken by time for her children that she cannot take care of herself by keeping up with fashion trends. This in turn destroys the chance at providing herself with an identity. Line four states, “someone she loved once passes by-too late” (4). Indication of regret is indulged as time has passed by too quickly and she regretfully realizes that going back for her lover is not an option, it is simply ‘too late’. Her lover is lost in time due to all the time she has dedicated to her children. In the Second quatrain an ex-lover states that “time holds great surp...


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... to both her ex-lover and the unbearable responsibility of caring for her children. The symbol of time and the depressing imagery demonstrates the destruction of the mother’s personal identity. Harwood’s demonstration of the loss of hope and the figurative and literal points are a sad reminder of the high societal expectations of mothers. Unfortunately, this is a paradigm that mother’s struggle to escape. Harwood recognizes these responsibilities and attempts to offer a sign of thanks for all that mother’s do for their children and in society through her tragic poem of a mother’s distraught identity.



Works Cited

Gordon, Neta. “Lecture 3 - Form 1.” ENGL 1F95. Brock University. St. Catharines, 19
September 20l1.
Harwood, Gwen. “In the park”. The Norton Introduction to Literature. 10th ed. Eds. Alison Booth & Kelly J. Mays. New York: W.W. Norton, 2010. 1072.

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