My Papa's Waltz: an Analysis of Speaker and Situation

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My Papa's Waltz: an Analysis of Speaker and Situation

By | Feb. 2006
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The poem "My Papa's Waltz" by Theodore Roethke is a moving representation of childhood spent in a working middle class family. The speaker of this poem is a man recalling his childhood, his father and his mother through the means of a waltz. The following essay will present a detailed analysis of the dramatic situation and speaker through the explanations of the various poetic tools used in this poem such as similes, choice of words and style. Theodore Roethke portrays the father figure as a working class man he does so by his description of him and thus his choice of words. For example, line 9 and 10, says that the father's hand was battered or even more so in line 14, the description of his palm is caked hard by dirt. The mother's character is shown to the reader in the kitchen, which suggest a traditional family situation before the feminist revolution in the 1960's. In order to accentuate this point the author chose to personify the mother's countenance as frowning and thus representing the mother as an emotion, as a frown. Therefore depicting the renaissance image of a static statue, a piece of art, and the status that thus follows is the women's inferiority to men, which act and move in society. This is shown through the dancing around of the father and the son and the mother just standing there. This family portrait, therefore, renders a traditional low-education kin and thus explains the language of the poem to be common or even better said a language of speech such as the word "dizzy", "scraped" or "caked". There is two angles or views to this poem: one being a happy fun time with daddy and the second child abuse if taken line by line out of the historical and social context. The first view is seen mainly in the first and last couplet. "But I hung on like death" (line 3) is a simile because of the linking work "like" and simply signifies the child embracing his father. The word "hung" as the connotation of being dependent of and the word...
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