The Formalistic Approach to Hay's Rapunzel Essay

The Formalistic Approach to Hay's Rapunzel Essay

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The Formalistic Approach to Hay's Rapunzel  

Prayer has been always a symbol of faith, and even in modern poetry it is still used as a desperate cry to the One in Heaven. One of the great examples of this desperate cry would be Sara Henderson Hay's "Rapunzel".After reading her modern version, familiarity with Grimm's fairy tale "Rapunzel" will reveal a completely new interpretation. Sara Hay chooses Rapunzel's prayer to be in the sonnet structure. Sonnet, being a part of a lyric genre, represents the most personal and direct speaking manner. Here, the lyric poet is speaking from Rapunzel's point of view almost singing her sufferings, her feelings and her past experiences.

Let's remember the first line of the sonnet: "Oh, God, let me forget the things he said". The elegy starts in the prayer form. It helps us to understand from the first line that the lyric hero is in suffering and is desperate. Through the words "let me forget", we can hear the echo of the past life, past things, that may never come back. The author (heroine) is leaving us in suspense, because she will never reveal to us "the things he said" and "the promises he made". The repeating formula "let me" reveals to us Rapunzel's feelings and is establishing the tone of the poem. The first lines help us to hear our heroine's voice tone, and to understand her suffering. Looking more at the first stanza, we can see many associations and connections between some words and the religious motif of prayer. The words "freezing and burning" are the extremes that help us to hear the echo of "Hell" (Rhetoric 102K class discussion, January 23 2001). In the same way the word promises in the Bible is synonymous with the word covenant (or Testament). In the fifth li...


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...ed by love, now has become the knowing one: " I knew...I knew...I might have known."

Looking at the last line of the sonnet we understand its purpose. Here, we see the image of many symbolic Rapunzels. The heroine is looking at the past and at the future, and realizes that her life is just one small piece, compared to the Eternal concept, or a concept of All. She realizes that the earthly life is not eternal and she is just a suffering traveler like many others.

Hay’s "Rapunzel" begins as a true worshiper, and finds her plight to be too disconcerting to communicate even to her Creator. So, she devolves into her own imaginings with groans so deep that only her soul can commune at this level. Prayer turns to song, song turns to fantasy, and in her heart, fantasy reveals tragic reality. Her only true hope is found in first heart cry: "Oh, God..."

 

 

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