Barbie Doll by Marge Piercy Essay
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The poem, "Barbie Doll," written by Marge Piercy tells the story of a young girl growing up through the adolescence stage characterized by appearances and barbarity. The author uses imagery and fluctuating tone to describe the struggles the girl is experiencing during her teenage years, and the affects that can happen. The title of this poem is a good description of how most societies expect others, especially girls to look. Constantly, people are mocked for their appearance and expected to represent a "barbie-doll"-like figure. Few are "blessed" with this description. The female gender is positioned into the stereotype that women should be thin and beautiful. With this girl, the effects were detrimental. The first stanza describes the…show more content…
It’s ironic that this particular word is used because puberty is actually a stage of emotional crisis’. A hurtful remark was made towards the child, and she was described as having a "big nose and fat legs." The second stanza also begins with the subdued tone mentioning the girls positive aspects, such as being "healthy…intelligent…strong." These specific details are usually related to the male. Once again, the gender characteristics play as an underlying factor. These qualities were not good enough for a woman if they were not beautiful. The stanza then takes a turn like the first turning away from the simplicity. The girl "went to and fro apologizing," while everyone still saw "a fat nose on thick legs." Society places women into the mold where they begin to put on a facade and apologize for their "misfortunes." In the third stanza, the girl was "advised to play coy…(and) smile." Women are once again pressured to act in a way that is unreal, like a "barbie doll." The "fan belt" mention in this stanza is used as imagery to describe how one’s facade can wear out over time, as hers did. She "cut off her nose and her legs," in response to this. The character Nora in "A Doll’s House," is a perfect example of how women are like dolls and do what they are told or what society expects of them. It is only in the last stanza where the girl is dead and has "consummation at last." She is finally given a compliment when someone said,
Contemporary poet Marge Piercy published a twenty-five line, open-form narrative poem titled “Barbie Doll.” Four stanzas provide the reader with a brief tale of a nameless “girlchild” whose life, markedly influenced by others’ opinions, comes to a sad and premature end.
“This girlchild was born as usual,” the poem begins. The little girl receives ostensibly appropriate gifts: dolls, miniature home appliances, some makeup. Later, “in the magic of puberty,” a schoolmate comments unflatteringly on her appearance, noting her “great big nose and fat legs.”
From the second stanza the reader learns about the young adolescent’s intelligence, physical prowess, and sexual drive. She appears to be healthy, strong, and capable, but she ignores these attributes, instead going “to and fro apologizing.” “Everyone” sees her as only “a fat nose on thick legs.”
As she matures, she receives counsel from others. The third stanza lists behaviors aimed at promoting her happiness and success. In time, her natural goodness breaks down like a worn-out automobile part. Finally, as an adult, she permanently rids herself of her perceived inadequacies by means of a sacrificial offering.
In the final stanza, the reader discovers the now-deceased woman displayed in her casket. She has been artificially fabricated by an undertaker, with a “turned-up putty nose,/ dressed in a pink and white nightie.” Onlookers find her “pretty.” The final two lines of the poem resolve the narrative: “Consummation at last./ To every woman a happy ending.”