How Metaphors Indicate the Speaker’s Feelings
Marge Piercy’s “The Secretary Chant”
In the poem “The Secretary Chant” Marge Piercy uses metaphors to create a solid image of how the speaker feels about being a secretary. The metaphors are used in a bold and expressive manner which allows the reader to identify with the speaker and envision her as a woman who feels that she has lost her since of identity as well as her womanhood while living vicariously through her job. Metaphors are used throughout the entire poem to show the extent in which the speaker is entrenched in her job. She feels dehumanized by her career and has resigned herself to the fact that she is only as valuable as a piece of office equipment. Starting in the first line of the poem, the speaker sets the tone for the reader. The opening sentence states “My hips are a desk” (1). She does not say my hips are like a desk but instead boldly uses the metaphor to demonstrate that notion that the speaker is not a woman but that she is actually a personification of an inanimate object. She continues in this manner throughout the next five lines of the poem. She describes various parts of her body as different office supplies. From her ears “hang chains of paper clips” (3). Her breasts are “wells of mimeograph ink” (4) and her feet “bear casters” (4). These metaphors allow the reader to see that not only is the speaker’s life being taken over by her job but that it is consuming her body as well. She does not feel that she is a woman. She feels that she has transformed into a device whose only use is in the workplace. As the poem progresses, the speaker continues to use metaphors to personify herself as an object with no sense of identity. The speaker has lost her mind and body to her job. Her head is “a badly organized file” (8) and a “switchboard” (9). She cannot organize her thoughts and sounds of the office overwhelm her mind. She uses the sounds metaphorically “Buzz. Click.” (7) and “Zing....
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