Analysis of Rita Dove’s

1 January 2017

In this poem, irony exists for the mere fact that from birth to adulthood the female population is brought up to feel fulfilled by simply becoming a wife and mother; however, this poem describes the monotonous duties and the joyless bond that can be between husband and wife. As the poem opens, Dove begins with a metaphor that entertains the idea of exhaustion from motherhood and managing the household. “But she saw diapers steaming on the line, a doll slumped behind the door” (Dove 896), the author offers this line to serve as a mirror image of the main character herself.

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To regain her composure, she finds a relaxing place behind the garage and the littlest objects such as “the pinched armor of a vanished cricket” or “a floating maple leaf” (Dove 896) serve as a simple pleasure and peace. “When she closed her eyes she’d see only her own vivid blood” in other words, she feels alive and free when she is in complete silence and isolation. The very location of her “safe-place” shows the loyalty to her family because she is close enough in case of need; however, she is still cherishing her time alone. The one hour of escape proves to give her the motivation to continue her every day responsibilities.

The main character’s daughter, Liza, intrudes upon her rejuvenation period with a disapproving attitude, “And just what was mother doing out back with the field mice? ” (Dove 896) Her young daughter could not fathom why her mother would rather be outside in nature than to keep the household running smoothly. The main character’s reply reflects her need for freedom by responding, “Why building a palace” (Dove 896).

Her palace is one where she is in full control of her surroundings and has complete freedom to do as she pleases, considering her husband and children are normally her master of sorts. Later that night when Thomas roller over and lurched into her, she would open her eyes and think of the place that was hers” this proves the point that she cannot even express herself sexually because she does not feel as if she has control in the situation. Her mind wanders elsewhere, in a place where she is her own master, instead of what is reality. Additionally, the main character’s husband shows some selfish tendencies in the fact that he may not notice his wife’s discontentment with his affection.

However, this may also present the lack of communication between man and wife and therefore may cause a sense of isolation from her husband. The main character possesses the characteristics of most young women, a full plate of responsibility and the lack of freedom that can wither away a person’s soul. My response to this poem is that I strongly respect the author for bringing up such a controversial issue such as discontentment with being a stay-at-home mother, since this is usually to be expected of women.

Dove explains the poem delicately and leaves the underlying sense that she may have possibly been through the situation herself. This being said, her imagery is wonderfully used and the metaphor of the doll being slumped over is a brilliant way to reflect upon the main character’s feelings and actions. The irony comes into play, in my opinion, when as young girls we are raised to act lady-like and put forth our best manners so we can be appealing to a man, who in the end will be the domineering figure in the household.

In other words, we are raised to become a docile, subservient woman just so we can possibly lose ourselves and our dreams. I feel as thought, unfortunately, many young woman use the power of a man to live a comfortable life, however, they do not realize that it can be a huge price to pay. Conclusively, I feel as though the author put forth a grand amount of effort and put together a beautifully written poem that may inspire many woman for years to come.

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