Persona and Tone

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A mother and wife should not be graded by those who have no experience with the job. In “Marks” by Linda Pastan, a woman’s thoughts on just that are revealed. The speaker in the poem is a woman who is also a mother and a wife. The woman is commenting on the level of appreciation that her family bestows upon her. She seems to be getting good grades, but as the son says “if/ I put my mind to it/ I could improve” (6-8). The poem has a playful tone… until the last two lines; “Wait ‘til they learn/ I’m dropping out” (11-12). This serious shift in tone reveals that the woman does not appreciate being given “Marks” on her performance as a wife and mother. Although she is receiving good grades; who are they to grade her? The last line alone provides a second reading of the poem with a wholly sharp but still playfully sarcastic tone as opposed to the initial lone playfulness. Since she is receiving good grades, it is unlikely that she is going to leave the family, or any other drastic maneuver. It simply indicates that she will no longer strive for good grades. It indicates that she will allow the members of the family fend more for themselves. Then, in retrospect, she will surely be given all A’s.

What happens after “Happily ever after?” This is what Ron Koertge is supposing in his poem “Cinderella’s Diary.” Koertge takes on the persona of the well known Disney character, Cinderella. The speaker, presumably Cinderella herself, of the poem is reading from a post fairytale Cinderella’s diary. The fairytale has ended and the boredom of real life has set in, thus there is a heavily jaded tone throughout. Cinderella has actually written “I miss my stepmother” in her hypothetical diary; everyone remembers the evil stepmother (1). The overly happy and cheerful things that were so pleasant in the Disney original are now mind numbingly unbearable; “Those insufferable birds” (13). The poem is filled with irony. What should be happily ever is not happy at all. It is down...
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