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Barbie Kills

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Matthew R.
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  1. Introduction
  2. The theme of Barbie Doll
  3. The provocative syntax of Marge Piercy
  4. Conclusion

When someone is asked for their impression of poetry they usually vaguely mumble something about red roses, blue violets, and sweet sugar. However, poetry can also take on serious subjects and begin an important discussion. Poetry such as this can be powerful avenues to help achieve social justice and bring about change. Marge Piercy's Barbie Doll is an excellent example of this brand of poetry. While hardly an easy read the poem masterfully employs a series of literary tools to convey the author's message of gender inequality.

The overt theme of Barbie Doll is the destructive nature of society's cosmetic expectations of women. Indeed, it has often been argued that, ?The moral of Piercy's parable is in the reader's response. The lesson is contained in the audience's outrage at the ways in which women have been (and continue to be) forced to conform to an ideal of femininity?often in ways antithetical to who they are as human beings. Piercy would have her readers take their rage at the poem's last line as a spur to action.?("Barbie Doll." Poetry for Students. Ed. Ira Mark Milne. Vol. 9. Detroit: Gale Group, 2000. 32-42. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 25 Apr. 2013.).

[...] Indeed, it has often been argued that, moral of Piercy's parable is in the reader's response. The lesson is contained in the audience's outrage at the ways in which women have been (and continue to be) forced to conform to an ideal of femininity?often in ways antithetical to who they are as human beings. Piercy would have her readers take their rage at the poem's last line as a spur to action.?("Barbie Doll." Poetry for Students. Ed. Ira Mark Milne. Vol Detroit: Gale Group 32-42. [...]


[...] Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web Apr. 2013.). The syntax of the poem itself support this interpretation, with such startlingly blunt language as, have a great big nose and fat legs.? By using this provocative syntax Marge Piercy also evokes the words unspoken connotations, such as in the following stanza, went to and fro apologizing. Everyone saw a fat nose on thick legs.? Most of us have at some point feared how we were viewed by others in our professional or personal lives and this stanza drags these memories up to the surface, making Piercy's poem even more impactful. [...]

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