Silence: Ralph Waldo Emerson and Moore

Topics: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Quotation, Language Pages: 4 (1248 words) Published: February 1, 2008
Silence Silence, as the title suggests, recites in the great part of the poem that represents the culture which has long taught the daughters to be silent. "'Superior people never make long visits,'" as Moore's father points out. In the poem Silence, Moore addresses when facing a father who manipulates the powers language confers, she needs to convert the powers to her own restraint on silence as her father recommends. This work has long been read as a sincere appreciation of a father's dictum; however, critics have taken a different approach and perspective to the poem. Instead of a keen and sincere appreciation of her father's statement, Moore, through Silence, rejects the father's uses of language, which assume that behavioral superiority and all other power relationships are stable, and hints the desire for freedom of both expression and response.

During the 1920s women were taught to be silent and obedient; the same situation applied to Moore. The first sentence of the poem suggests an act of power upon Moore that the father assumes her silent, restrained submission. He intends to prevent the freedom of a two-way process of communication; however, Moore cleverly manipulates the father's words in several ways. "My father used to say," as Moore writes, implies that the father can no longer repeat this behavior of absolute control. Though she may appear to reverse the situation so that she comes to power, she does not show direct opposition to her father's words. What she really rejects and opposes is the dominant, controlling uses of language that presuppose superiority and power. Through her poem, Moore speaks for any daughter or female who experiences the same situation, as it applies frequently.

From the second line up to the 12th line, Moore readdresses the audience what her father has recommended with direct quotation. As Emerson suggests, quoting means to borrow the authority of famous men along with their words. Though Moore's habits of quotation...

Cited: Moore, Marianne. The Complete Poems of Marianne Moore. New York: The Macmillan Company/ The Viking Press, 1981 Altirei, Charles, Elizabeth Gregory, and Cristanne Miller. On "Silence". 15 Mar. 2002 .
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