A Stylistic Analysis of "What Every Woman Should Carry" Essay

A Stylistic Analysis of "What Every Woman Should Carry" Essay

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How this essay will be approached is by first giving a general interpretation of the poem "What Every Woman Should Carry" by Maura Dooley. This will be followed by, with the use of stylistic features, a more thorough interpretation. The stylistic features that will be used are deviation, parallelism as well as cohesion and foregrounding. This will be done by taking a closer look at the only stanza contained in the entire poem which consists of 12 lines. This particular poem could be broken into two parts. Lines one to six appears to deal with the past and six to twelve might specify the present; this will be explained in more depth during the course of the essay.

The content of the poem tells "What Every Woman Should Carry" in her handbag. The poem begins with a feeling of optimism but ends quite pessimistically. This is because its subject matter is based around a woman's new romantic relationship which gradually grows but then slowly declines ending in despair and loneliness. This feeling of loneliness first comes from the title. The title suggests that the narrator feels alone in her misery and wants others to know how she feels so she will be no longer alone. The word "should" in the title suggests that women should be able to relate to these feelings, not that they do. This could be described as in medias res as, the title refers to the conclusion of the poem, not the opening. The bag first contains objects of security and familiarity, for example, tampon, Kleenex, polo mints (lines 2-3), but then the contents of the bag change dramatically to include thoughts and feelings as possibly unwanted or heavy baggage; these include anguish, impatience, her heart (lines 1-5). Each item in the bag is related and symbol...


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...uld be found in those short 12 lines, but if I was to find a biography of the author, I would find parallels with her own life. I felt at times when reading this poem that I was intruding into another woman's handbag and into her thoughts, it felt personal to the author. It was also humorous in the way the narrator has to carry a pack of three in her bag as she does not trust her partner, this left me thinking whether this was because he is unfaithful or forgets to carry his own. But this also helped me to believe that this was showing us the beginning of a relationship or other wise surely this item would be kept in a shared bedroom. Lastly, to include a religious figure (Saint Theresa) at the beginning of the poem and a guardian angel (lucky charm) at the beginning of the second half showed that she may have suspected the relationship to end in tears eventually.

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