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Analysis of Anne Sexton's Poem "Her Kind"

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Analysis of Anne Sexton's Poem "Her Kind"

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  • December 15, 2010
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Analysis of Anne Sexton's Poem "Her Kind"

Anne Sexton was a poet and a woman, but most importantly, she was an outcast. Subjected to nervous breakdowns and admitted to a neuropsychiatry hospital, Sexton must have been all too familiar with the staring eyes and the judging minds of the public. Just being a woman in today's world often can be enough to degrade a person in the public's eye, let alone being labeled as a crazy woman. But Anne Sexton did not let society remain unchallenged in its views. She voiced a different opinion of women through poetry. In Anne Sexton's "Her Kind" the speaker of the poem embraces society's negative stereotype of modern, liberated women and transforms it into a positive image. Two voices, the voice of society and the voice of the speaker, duel about the issue of the stereotype of modern women. Like Anne Sexton, the speaker in this poem is an outcast woman.

Basically, the speaker of "Her Kind" is outcast because she is powerful. Traditionally, society expects women to lead sheltered lives. Women are to be obedient, quiet, and timid. They are viewed as gentle and kind, not "dreaming evil" (Line 3). The modern, liberated woman completely shatters this tradition by courageously speaking her mind and living an independent life. She is empowered as she seeks education and a stable career instead of a domestic life. Since the modern woman does not fit the traditional label, "A woman like that is not a woman quite" (Line 6). Society would view this line of the poem as a negative slam on the modern woman and paraphrase it by saying, "She's not quite right in the head; therefore, she does not belong here in civilization."

Society appears to recoil from the idea of a powerful woman. Male dominance becomes threatened, and men are faced with a loss of control. As a result, the male dominant society casts out the modern woman and tries to squash the change in power. This task may be accomplished by physically removing the liberated...