Marge Piercy’s Barbie Doll Essay
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The Poem “Barbie Doll (1969)” by Marge Piercy describes the life of a young girl who fell victim to society’s idea of beauty. Marge Piercy was a known social activist and uses this poem to bring attention to serious issues facing young females in society. “Barbie Doll” by Marge Piercy is a narrative poem; the poem is written in free verse. The author selects a free form of poetry and other devices to help get her point across.
The central message of this work is that society is obsessed with appearances. The point the author is trying to make is beauty should not be the most important trait of a person. In today’s society everything is based on looks, people are more concerned about a person’s outward appearance. People strive to…show more content…
“ideals are developmentally ingrained in children and adolescents”( Englis 1). The idea of beauty and ideal looks are engraved into people at a young age. The little girl being given a Barbie doll shows this in the poem. The idea of beauty and how a woman should act are represented in the Barbie doll. The primary take away is beauty is not everything.
The author uses the poems structure and stanzas to help get her point across. The poem is composed of four stanzas with a total of 25 lines. Each stanza signifies a different part of the child’s life. The stanzas have irregular lengths and structures. The numbers of lines in each stanza vary from five to seven. Piercy separates the pieces of the story by stanzas to tell the girls story so the audience could see how she was treated since birth. For instance the first stanza talks about her birth and adolescent years, while the third and forth stanzas talk about the end of her life.
The intended audience for this poem is society. One of the first reasons why society is easily picked as the authors intended target is because of Piercy’s use of allusion in her poem, more specifically in the title of the poem, “Barbie Doll”. The title of the poem has reference to the actual Barbie doll, which is also mentioned in the first stanza. The idea to mention the actual doll points toward society because Barbie is “most
The barbie doll poem analysis
The poem Barbie Doll is a powerful poem. The name carries a lot of meaning because a Barbie doll has long been an icon in society. Although it is a children’s toy, a Barbie doll exemplifies a woman with a perfect body exonerating beauty. This poem portrays a summary of a life since birth to the end of life at a funeral. The main character in the poem never had a chance to live life to the fullest because she was always trying to please others and be accepted. She never got the chance to be herself which led her to lead a life of unhappiness.
This is a narrative poem written in a free verse style using four stanzas; the author used different tones throughout the “Barbie Doll” helping my understanding of the poem and showing what the author was trying to communicate to the reader.
“This girlchild was born as usual” (1). This sentence gave me the impression that this child was born as any normal child; nothing was wrong with her.
The first paragraph describes toys that girl’s plays with such as “GE stove, and Irons” (3). This represents the kind of work a woman is “supposed” to do. It shows that she should learn how to cook and iron in order to be a woman. And “lipsticks the color of cherry candy” (4); lipstick is a product that women use to enhance their sexuality, look pretty and cover the way they look. I feel since her lips were criticized that by having her wear lipstick, she can alter her appearance; maybe drawing less attention to her nose. “Then in the magic of puberty” (5) implies that the girchild is growing up, she is beginning her maturation; her menstrual cycle started and her body began to change. This term is used ironically, referring to how she is going to suffer and the pain that will come with the transformation. “You have a great big nose and fat legs” (6); the tone of the poem changes at this point and the main character starts to question her physical appearance. This is also when her low self-esteem begins; she will never be the same.
The poem continues to follow the girl until her adult years; the tone changes again when the author describes the girl’s positive qualities as a human being. Using an up-beat tone, Marge Piercy describes the positive qualities: “She was healthy, tested intelligent / possessed strong arms and back / abundant sexual drive and manual dexterity” (7-9). These good strong qualities are qualities that women possess and are proud of. She couldn’t see those good qualities in herself because she was so busy trying to please everyone else. She ended up forgetting who she was. I thought the poem was going to go in a different direction because the tone had become more positive. However, the tone changed again, when the author brought us back to the subject, “She went to and fro apologizing” (10) looking to be accepted. She apologized when she did not have to, it did not matter how hard she tried. She could not be seen as a human being. “Everyone saw a fat nose on thick legs” (11); this is a very powerful line in the poem; this line gives the message the author is trying to get across to the reader. She has all these good strong qualities; she is intelligent and strong, but she is still seen as fat nose on thick legs. That shows that society only cares for physical appearances and not about the qualities that matter, how people really are and their inner beauty.
The third stanza begins with advice given to her by others. “She was advised to play coy / exhorted to come on hearty / exercise, diet, smile” (12-14). She was told to lose weight, smile even though she was not happy, and brown nose and charm people so that she could blend in. The girl becomes frustrated because she could not come up with the results that society was expecting from her. They expected her to look like a model or a Barbie. She gave up; she couldn’t take anymore, “her good nature wore out” (15). She decides to do something drastic because she was tired of trying to fit in. “So she cut off her nose and her legs / and offered them up” (17-18). She cut off what society did not like about her and stopped her misery, she decided to go to a place where nobody could judge her. Society won one more time defeating a person that only wanted to be accepted, a good person.
The fourth stanza, the last paragraph, follows the girl to her death where the author ironically described her perfect nose and the casket. “In the casket displayed on satin” (19) is a symbol of death and also is a big Barbie box. “Doesn’t she look pretty? Everyone said / consummation at last. / To every woman a happy ending” (23-25) is a sarcastic and ironic showing of how society has accepted the girl not for who she was, but for what society want her to be.
The poem, Barbie Doll, signifies what happens to women and anyone other minorities, who are oppressed and have pressure exerted on them from society. The main character in the poem took her life because society did not accept her as she was. She was intelligent and a nice girl. There was no reason why people should have treated her the way they did. Although society always expects others to be how they want them to be, people must remain strong and keep their soul alive. They need to assure that they do not lose themselves and that they surround themselves with those that care and support them.