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Course No: Institution: Name: Date: Marge Piercy's Poem the "Barbie Doll" Analysis Introduction The poem by Marge Piercy, Barbie Doll describes a girl who kills herself due to her inability to meet the overwhelming cultural and societal expectations that the society places on young girls as they grow up into womanhood…
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Download file to see previous pages It assumes that the quality called ‘beauty’ objectively and universally exists. Women must want to embody it and men must want to possess women who embody it”. Her sentiments summarize how the society views women beauty and how it uses the perceived images to manipulate their lives. The sad truth as depicted in Barbie Doll poem is that women more than often fall victims. The stage is set from a normal birth through to a sad premature final journey at the funeral. This poem is a narrative of four stanzas written in a free verse style. Marge Piercy used different tones throughout the poem to pass the critical message of the impact of gender stereotyping on the women in the society. The tone of the poem depicts a depressed and sad life of a girl trying to fit into the expectations of the society but in vain. She uses a well known toy Barbie Doll to pass the message. She vividly describes real cultural and social pressures that young girls and women have to endure on a daily basis. Using culture studies approach, this paper provides a critical analysis of the poem using two different schools of literary criticism: feminist and psychoanalytic criticism to illustrate cultural and social gender stereotype on ideal women beauty and gender roles. Formation of Gender Stereotype According to Sharon Begley, stereotypes “make people painfully aware of how the society views them.” She argues that such awareness can extensively influence the intellectual ability of the holder as well as performance of other tasks (Begley, 2000 p66). In the poem Barbie Doll, Marge Piercy sets the stage by introducing the historical formative stage of the female beauty and gender role stereotypes. By using Barbie Doll an iconic beautiful toy manufactured by Mattel Toys, and widely adored by American girl children, she illustrates how the society form and transfer stereotypes from one generation to another. In this case, Mattel Toys represents the society and the toy Barbie Doll bearing Mattel Toys expected characteristics of a beautiful girl or woman is the culture that is passed on to the next generation. The salient characteristics of Barbie Doll are; she has blonde hair, blue eyes, large breasts, a small waist, and large hips. According to Wald 1998, these are the symbol of beauty and are used as the standard to gauge girls’ beauty by society (Wald, 1998, pp. 585-610). The first line of the first stanza, “This girlchild was born as usual” shows an innocent being brought forth into the world free from any cultural influence. Line 2 – 4, “and presented dolls that did pee-pee and miniature GE stoves and irons and wee lipsticks the color of cherry candy” shows clearly, the society’s involvement in introducing and propagating gender stereotypes and the perceived gender roles. The items presented to her are symbols of ideal woman. The innocent child is orientated into chauvinistic society – to be a beautiful woman who performs household chores and thus, cultured with expected ideal woman characteristics of beauty (Barbie Doll and lipsticks) and roles (GE stoves and irons). In line 5 – 6 “Then in the magic of puberty, a classmate said: You have a great big nose and fat legs” ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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