Dorothy Parker

Topics: Woman, Emotion, Telephone Pages: 4 (947 words) Published: October 8, 1999


'Four be the things I am wiser to know:

Idleness, sorrow, a friend, and a foe.

Four be the things I'd been better without:

Love, curiosity, freckles, and doubt.

Three be the things I shall never attain:

Envy, content, and sufficient champagne.

Three be the things I shall have till I die:

Laughter and hope and a sock in the eye.'


Dorothy Parker became popular shortly after the first world war with her light verse and short stories. Although her works may not seem harsh and unwomanly today, they were labeled in this manner at the height of her popularity. Her cynical verses developed into something of a national frenzy, while giving the reader the impression that she recklessly stretched a woman's equal rights to include sexual relationships. It seemed that infidelity was included among these "rights." Her admirers culled quotations from her poetry that, while seeming to be among the most clever, were also among the least sincere. These epitomize the apparent lack of emotional range displayed in her verse.

The techniques and topics that many of her verses tackle are as follows: "bitterness, humor, wit, and love" (Adams 519), together with an absolute foreknowledge of their futility. Love, especially, plays a major role as a theme of Parker's verse. Many poems are relating to love and loneliness or death as results of love. Parker once said of an actress in a review of a play that she "runs the gamut of emotions from A to B." The same could almost be applied to the author herself (Bloom 2537). Her more bitter verses become brief ballads of animosity. This aspect is quite well demonstrated by the imagined injury of others in "Frustration:"

'If I had a shiny gun,

I could have a world of fun

Speeding bullets through the brains

Of the folks who give me pains;

Or had I some poison gas,

I could make the moments pass

Bumping off a number of

People whom I do not love....
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