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Analysis Of Barbie Doll Essay


Analysis of Barbie Doll

Marge Piercy wrote the poem, Barbie Doll, to express how she felt about society and the stress that society places on physical appearance. Marge Piercy, herself, did not fit an image of what a woman was supposed to be like. Piercy is intelligent and has always been motivated to learn. In the 1950s she was labeled for her deviant sexuality and ambitions. The theme of the poem is obedience, society enforce women to look a certain way. Barbie Doll, was written in 1973. In 1959 the original Barbie doll first appeared. Now for more than fifty years, parents have been purchasing Barbie dolls for their daughters, who attempt to imitate Barbies appearance. Barbie dolls are one of the best selling toys of all time. Marge Piercy relates to the girl in Barbie Doll. Piercy hides her rage with societys pressure on women to look a certain way in Barbie Doll, in an ironic way. Barbie Doll, has four stanzas, each one progresses and changes the tone as the girl grows and changes.

The poem opens up with a girlchild being born. The poem begins like a fairy-tale, using words such as, girlchild in order to emphasize the fictitious quality of the story. The first stanza continues to disrobe the toys that the little girl was given to play, she was given, miniature GE stoves and irons and wee lipsticks the color of cheery candy (line 4). In this stanza the little girl is playing house, she is playing a role that society believes she is suppose to play. She played ironing and cooking. She had to look pretty, and that is why she was given the red lipstick. The

little girl did not choose to play with these toys; these toys were presented to her. They were presented to that when she grows up she would obey society and the status quo. The last line of the first stanza the girl hits puberty, and a classmate says, You have a great big nose and fat legs (line 6). The statement was written as a fact, which means that the girl believes what the classmate said. This line shows that the girl has low self-esteem. The tone of this stanza begins in a fairy tale way and ends with a cruel tone. Piercy ends the stanza with a cruel tone to show that society judge people based on their appearance.

The second stanza continues with the girl into her early adult years. In the beginning of the second stanza, Piercy changes the tone from cruel to kind. In this stanza we learn that the girl is proud of some personal attributes. Her positive qualities were, she was healthy, tested intelligent, possessed strong arms and back (line 7). Piercy then changes the tone again back to negative, at the end of the stanza. Even though the girl was healthy and smart everyone only saw a fat nose on thick legs (line 10). This stanza shows that society is too consumed by physical appearance that they do not notice the qualities that are really important.

Piercy uses a hostile tone in the third stanza. In this stanza the girl is frustrated with society. Piercy writes that the girl was told what to do and how to act. The girl could not handle the way that society criticized her on her appearance, so her good nature wore out (line 15), and she decided to obey society. The wording in the first five lines of this stanza is used without any sympathy towards the girl; these lines are written without passion. Then once again Piercy ends the

stanza in a negative tone. So she cut off her nose and her legs and offered them up (line 17), in these lines the author shows bitterness and disappointment with the girl. She shows bitterness for obeying society, and for changing her appearance so that she would not be judge on it. When Piercy says that the girl cut off her nose and legs, she means that the girl got plastic surgery, because it was the only way that she could belong.

The last stanza follows the girl to her funeral. The girl did not literally die, but she did die figuratively. Who the girl really was is now dead and all that is left is a girl that is plastic, like a Barbie doll. The girl lost the battle against society. Doesnt she look pretty? Everyone said. Consummation at last (line 23), this line shows that society only care about peoples outward appearance. Physical perfection is the most important thing in society. Now that the girl has died inside, it is then that she belongs. Piercy ends Barbie Doll in an ironic and fairytale tone, To everywoman a happy ending (line 25). This last line shows that society poison women into believing that in order to be happy, a woman most look a certain way. The irony in this is that believing in these untruthful ideas will never give a woman a happy ending.

Mercy Piercy did not fit the physical appearance that society enforces on women. Piercy wrote Barbie Doll, to express her feelings towards society and the stress they put in women to look a certain way. The theme of the Barbie Doll is obedience. Women are forced to obey society, in order to feel like they belong. The tone in Barbie Doll, changes and develops as the girl, herself, changes.

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