An Analysis of the Poem Briar Rose (Sleeping Beauty)
Anne Sexton’s Briar Rose (Sleeping Beauty) is a poem which does not only challenges the conventions of the original and traditional fairy tale but also serves as an exposure of a problem which causes a lot of women’s lifelong sufferings. Briar Rose’s courageous revelation of her father’s sexual abuses on her ironically shows reality using a fairy tale, opening the eyes of the readers on the emotional and psychological effects of sexual abuse. The poem shows that even though women are set by to be seen with the princess-like qualities of heroines in fairy tales, within them are painful experiences brought by the highly male-dominated society which will only be exposed by breaking conventions and destroying silence.
The first part of the first stanza, told in the third person point of view, describes a girl who is like under a hypnotist’s power. The image of a hypnotist suggests control over the girl. The lines “She is stuck in the time machine/Suddenly two years old sucking her thumb” shows that the girl seemed to be childlike while under control of the hypnotist, her father, and is as helpless as a two year old. It is also said that she is “learning to talk again” which suggests that under the control of the father, she is not able to express what she wants to say like her fears and rejection.
“Little doll child, /come here to papa/. Sit on my knee/ I have kisses for the back of your neck. / A penny for your thoughts, Princess/ I will hunt them like an emerald. / Come be my snooky/ and I will give you a riot.” These are the lives of Briar Rose’s father. With these lines, it is clearly shown how the king treated his daughter to be very special and how he manipulates her to do what he wants. He called Briar Rose as little doll, something that is controlled. The image of the honeysuckle in the beginning of the second stanza...