Theme Of Ambiguity In The Monument By Elizabeth Bishop Essay example

Theme Of Ambiguity In The Monument By Elizabeth Bishop Essay example

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In The Monument by Elizabeth Bishop ambiguity is crucial to the audience's perception of the monument. Bishop refrains from telling the audience the meaning of the monument in order to maintain the theme of ambiguity. By using ambiguity Bishop allows her audience to develop their own interpretation of the monument.
The text begins with, “Now can you see the monument? It is of wood/ built somewhat like a box. No. Built/ like several boxes in descending sizes/ one above the other.”(line 1) The narrator starts off the poem by telling the audience to look at the monument with the statement, “Now can you see the monument?” It is important that the audience is fully aware of the monument as it is the main focus of the poem and requires close attention. By calling the monument a monument the author is suggesting that it is of importance. The word monument suggests a sacred object or a memorial that holds significance. The narrator moves on to state the basic layout of the monument, “Each is turned half-way round so that/ its corners point towards the sides/ of the one below and the angles alternate.”(line 5) Here, the image of the monument starts to come together. Although the narrator discusses the detail on the monument its meaning remains unknown, “Then on the topmost cube is set/ a sort of fleur-de-lys of weathered wood,/long petals of board, pierced with odd holes,/four-sided, stiff, ecclesiastical.”(line 8) Here the author uses “ecclesiastical” to describe the monument. The use of the word ecclesiastical is ambiguous in this context because the relationship between the monument and religion is unknown. In addition to the wooden boxes that stand stacked one upon the other another element is revealed, “From it four thin, warped pole...


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...sterious. At the end of the poem the narrator states, “It is the beginning of a painting,/ a piece of sculpture, or poem, or monument,/ and all of wood. Watch it closely.” The sculpture itself is representative of all art forms. Without an audience the sculpture does not exist. By watching it closely the audience brings the sculpture to life. This suggests that if the monument is not closely monitored by the human eye that it might change its form if you look away.
The ambiguity in The Monument allows for the audience to develop their own unique interpretation of the monument and what it means to them or how it looks. The ambiguity of the monument itself makes it difficult to determine whether or not it is a secular object. Almost everything in the poem is ambiguous, the monument, the unknown speaker separate from the narrator as well as the creator of the monument.

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