Secretary Chant

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In the poem “The Secretary Chant” by Margie Piercy, a woman working as a secretary is depicted as undervalued and unappreciated by her employer. With this poem being written in 1936, the idea of women in the workplace was fairly new. Women were not given equal treatment as employees and were in the beginning stages of their fight for equality. The year the poem was written most certainly plays an integral role in the poem’s tone, structure, diction, and theme. Throughout the poem, it is obvious that the secretary feels as if her job consumes her to the point where she is only seen as an object in the business in which she is employed rather than a human being or woman. The poet uses office materials to replace the secretary’s body parts, which further helps the reader to comprehend the extent to which the secretary feels degraded. In “The Secretary Chant” Piercy conveys her inner feelings of the secretary using several literary elements that help influence the theme of the poem including: metaphorical tone, onomatopoeia, repetition, and imagery. The tone of the poem seems to be very monotonous and emotionless. The poem begins with the sentence “My hips are a desk” (Line1). This sentence gives off a very robotic tone for the poem due to its simplicity and short length of the sentence. The poet intentionally uses short and choppy sentences, which depict the fact that the secretary’s humanity is downgraded to that of the quality of the work that she can produce. The poet uses short, uncomplicated sentences to further relay the degradation of the secretary. The number of words per line in the poem also contributes to the brief and robotic tone of the poem. The poem’s lack of eloquent diction and simplicity of each line and sentence helps in developing the theme of women in the work place as mere functions. Piercy’s way of getting her point across is to turn the secretary into one big metaphor for workplace machinery. Piercy refers to the secretary’s body parts...
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