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Barbie Doll Analysis



Author: Poetry of Marge Piercy Type: Poetry Views: 5889

Circles on the Water: Selected poems of Marge Piercy1999This girlchild was born as usual

and presented dolls that did pee-pee

and miniature GE stoves and irons

and wee lipsticks the color of cherry candy.

Then in the magic of puberty, a classmate said:

You have a great big nose and fat legs.She was healthy, tested intelligent,

possessed strong arms and back,

abundant sexual drive and manual dexterity.

She went to and fro apologizing.

Everyone saw a fat nose on thick legs.She was advised to play coy,

exhorted to come on hearty,

exercise, diet, smile and wheedle.

Her good nature wore out

like a fan belt.

So she cut off her nose and her legs

and offered them up.In the casket displayed on satin she lay

with the undertaker's cosmetics painted on,

a turned-up putty nose,

dressed in a pink and white nightie.

Doesn't she look pretty? everyone said.

Consummation at last.

To every woman a happy ending.





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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

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I think this all is a way of talking about suicide and bullying. A young girl seems perfect, people are jealous, so they start to bullying her. The girl can\'t stand the pressure and goes suicidal.

| Posted on 2012-11-24 | by a guest


.: :.

To however sayd she didn\'t actually cut off her nose and legs you do the the part where she died right?

| Posted on 2012-10-29 | by a guest


.: :.

in the poem it states that \" cut off her nose and legs\". Sh really did not cut off her legs and noe she just had some type of surgery to change them.

| Posted on 2012-09-28 | by a guest


.: :.

Through figurative language, society’s idea of perfection is equated with the Barbie Doll’s ability to maintain the prime of beauty.
The idea of perfection is represented through a metaphor. “Miniature GE stoves” were released with Barbie Dolls. They became a success because they were popular. In the everyday world popularity is everything. In high school, if someone is not popular, they are nobody. Popularity is perfection in modern society. “Wee lipsticks” is a form of makeup. Makeup covers the imperfections of natural beauty. It also is seen as beautiful. For these two reasons, it’s a form of perfection. “Irons” use steam to straighten clothes and improve their look. They also smooth them. To straighten and smooth is to perfect it. They perfect the clothes. The character of the poem was raised around perfection, influencing her to be perfect.
The use of symbolism represents a Barbie Doll. On the box of a Barbie, there is a mixture of “white and pink” that covers the box as art. It represents a Barbie Doll. When she was displayed, she was dressed in pink and white. The “casket” protects her from the environment as a box does a Barbie. The casket represents the box. When she “cut off her nose and legs” or manipulated her body, she changed herself. She changed herself as a Barbie can. She manipulated herself as a Barbie does. “Cosmetics painted on” says that she is artificial. Barbies are painted, humans are not. Paint is artificial, as is the character in her casket. The character of the poem represents a Barbie Doll.
The ideals of modern society that force her to change herself are represented through a metaphor. “Exhorted to come on hearty, exercise, diet, smile, and wheedle” means that society influenced her. Society is strict with accepting those who are different. She had to come to their rules to fit in. “She was advised to play coy” means that she was pushed to be a lady. To fit into society, she had to let society push her. When she “offered them up”, she offered up her old habits. Her old habits kept her from being part of society. The character, to become accepted, had to change her ways to become accepted by society.
Society’s view of perfection is represented through a metaphor. Her “turned up putty nose” represents her artificial, but perfect, self. Putty nose is another name for plastic surgery on a nose. Plastic surgery is artificial and seen as perfect in modern society. The “satin” that lines her casket is a sign of perfection. Satin is a symbol of perfection because of the difficulty to make it. “To every woman a happy ending” means that she reached perfection. She changed herself and finally fit into society. She reached perfection, which was what she wanted all along. In order to become perfect, she had to come to society’s idea of perfection.

| Posted on 2012-02-09 | by a guest


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i think that what she ment by castet is that she can no longer live the life she was ment to live and that she is forever in fake skin and that she is forever dead and her spirit is killed because she could not live her life in her own beuty. and the line \"every womens happy ending\' is that shegot the words she finally wanted that all she ever wanted was to be pretty in other peoples eyes.

| Posted on 2011-05-03 | by a guest


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The poem, “Barbie Doll” by Marg Piercy, tells the story of a young girl who goes through life hating herself due to her physical appearance. From the moment she is born, this girl is exposed to the expectations of society and goes through life encountering the harsh realities of not meeting those expectations. The need to live up to the world’s idea of beauty fuels years of severe self scrutiny that tears down any and all of her self confidence- preventing her from loving any part of herself. Through her desperation, the girl elects to live a life restricted by rules she believes will lead to happiness; the failure of this plan results in a truth she is incapable of coping with. The pressure placed on the protagonist of “Barbie Doll” to look and act according to society’s expectations ultimately leads to her suicide.
The protagonist of “Barbie Doll” is described as having many good qualities, but is incapable of seeing them for herself; when she looks in the mirror, all she can see is “a great big nose and fat legs (L 6)”. As a result of the world telling her she needs to look a specific way in order to be attractive, this “girlchild (L1)” becomes void of all self confidence. The pressure to conform to society’s ideal image distorts her self-image to the point where she cannot see any positive quality about herself; instead of taking pride in her assets, she goes “ to and fro apologizing” for her inadequacies. The belief that she is unattractive leads her to become obsessed with the obtainment of what she expects will finally bring her happiness: perfection. In order to achieve her goal, she lives according to guidelines: “advised to play coy,/ exhorted to come on hearty,/ exercise, diet, smile, and wheedle (L 12-14).” When her “good nature (L15)” finally wears out and the pressure becomes too much to handle, the reality that she can never be what the world perceives as beautiful is too much to bear; she rejects her flaws in one final attempt to fulfill her lifelong goal of satisfying the superficial values of society. As she lays in a casket “with the undertaker’s cosmetics painted on” and “a turned-up putty nose”, onlookers comment on how pretty she is- the comment only cost her life.
Jordanne Erichsen

| Posted on 2010-10-23 | by a guest


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In the poem “Barbie Doll”, we get to watch as a girl is born, grows up, and finally dies, encountering some of the problems which come with growing up, namely peer cruelty and the first pressures to conform to society’s ideal image of a woman. From the moment this girl was born, she was “presented dolls that did pee-pee/and miniature GE stoves and irons/and wee lipsticks the color of cherry candy”, thus exposing her, perhaps unwittingly, to the ideals and expectations of society. Her seemingly innocent child’s toys were teaching her how to live—first potty training with the toy that went “pee-pee”, then the “miniature GE stoves and irons” told her to use her life to cook and clean, then the “wee lipsticks” taught her not to go out without makeup on, and finally, the dolls with their perfect bodies, the Barbies, served as models for her. All this was subliminal influence, though, unsuspectingly absorbed into her young subconscious like water into a sponge. The sponge was finally rung out when she hit puberty, sending a cascade of awareness over her, as one of her classmates proclaimed to her that “you have a great big nose and fat legs.” To the girl, those nine simple words were not the foolish opinion of an immature classmate, but devastating news. From that point on, her efforts to conform to ideals were not only subconscious. She felt bad that she did not fit in and so “went to and fro apologizing” for her “fat nose on thick legs” which was all anyone could see. No one saw that “she was healthy, tested intelligent,/possessed strong arms and back,/abundant sexual drive and manual dexterity”, which are all good qualities, because the package wasn’t perfect. By everyone blinded by these social standards, she was “advised to play coy,/exhorted to come on hearty,/exercise, diet, smile and wheedle.”—in short, to conform. But the pressures of it all became too much eventually, and “Her good nature wore out/like a fan belt”. When she couldn’t take living like that anymore, she “cut off her nose and her legs/and offered them up”, sacrificing her body and soul to superficial societal values. She may have literally done away with her nose and legs, but it is more likely that she went under the professional knife of a plastic surgeon. Either way it killed her, physically and emotionally, to get what society wanted her to get—that is, “undertaker\'s cosmetics” and “a turned-up putty nose”.
The whole poem is sort of like the manufacturing of a Barbie doll—first comes the shapeless, innocent lump of skin-colored plastic, the girl child, rolling along on a conveyer belt, not knowing what the company, society, expects it to become. Then the first searing molder, puberty, is upon it, forcing it to grow arms and legs and ideals. It knows now what it should turn out to be and becomes determined to develop exactly as it should. The next stop on the belt, the plastic surgeon’s knife, shaves off unsightly blips, makes its arms slender, its legs petite, and its features tiny and delicate. Everything perfect. From there there’s no where for it to go but into the box—into the casket—to be shipped out and shown off, “dressed in a pink and white nightie.”

| Posted on 2010-10-17 | by a guest


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In the poem "Barbie Doll," author Marge Piercy utilizes four short stanzas to provide a scathing review of the cultural and societal expectations that American culture places on children, particularly young girls. The protagonist, if the subject of the poem can really be called such, undergoes a short summary of life during the piece of literature, beginning at birth and ending with a sad picture of her funeral. The entire poem is written with a tone of depression and sadness, in fact, with the young girl presented as " [going] to and fro apologizing," about her culturally unacceptable image.
The image that she possesses is not supposed to be wrong in an empirical sense, but rather that it is incorrect in comparison to what America typically presents as being the "perfect" woman. As a child, the girl was "presented dolls that did pee-pee/ and miniature GE stoves and irons/ and wee lipsticks the color of cherry candy." By providing concrete examples that many Americans will be familiar with, and even using the brand name of General Electric, Marge Piercy allows the story to resonate with some image of the reader's past. In these examples, though, abide the very ideas that ultimately cause the girl's lack of self-satisfaction: perfect bodies, perfect faces, and the perfect look. It is no coincidence that Piercy names the poem "Barbie Doll" the quintessential example of fake perfection.
The author goes a step farther, however, and shows the consequence of dissatisfaction with one's self. Despite the fact that "she was healthy, tested intelligent/ possessed strong arms and back/ abundant sexual drive and manual dexterity," traits that would be considered to be the pinnacle of "correct," she was unacceptable to culture. The girl attempts to please everyone at first, but soon "Her good nature wore out." In the stanza immediately following, Piercy brings the central idea together: as the girl, now dead, lies in a casket with fake makeup and fake dress, the people, or society, are finally happy. "Doesn't she look pretty? Everyone said. / Consummation at last. / To every woman a happy ending." Laced in irony, the author states that finally, the girl has achieved acceptance, but not on the merits of her character or her being; rather, through the unwilling compromise to culture. Piercy shows through her poem "Barbie Doll" the dangers of false standards and the consequences of their application. It is not that we should all be held to a single, high standard, but rather that we should be judged each according to our own merits and values.

| Posted on 2010-01-17 | by a guest


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It only shows that if we do not conform to our society we will be excluded and wont fit in. The only way to fix that would be to change the way we look so that we can accept ourselves as well as be accepted. We have to change ourselves to live a happy and productive life.

| Posted on 2009-10-26 | by a guest


.: :.

The "casket displayed on satin" could not only be a symbol of the death and destruction caused by gender stereotypes, but it could also represent a giant Barbie packaging box.

| Posted on 2009-02-24 | by a guest


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I believe it was written on purpose in this way so that the casket could have more than one meaning. Concluding that in a way, society's pressures either force women to conform or kill their selves in the process. Unless a woman doesn't conform, then in that case it is a social death in the eyes of society, even if the nonconformist doesn't see it that way. All in all, the sum is that society's idea of beauty is unrealistic and only causes pain no matter how you look at it.

| Posted on 2009-01-27 | by a guest


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skyyyy
When your young, beauty is not essental. However, when a young woman hits puberty she is very self conscious about her looks and when someone blutly states shes ugly she will think that and will do anything to change that. The message of the poem could be that she has an eating disorder or gets plastic surgery; anything to have the "ideal" beauty portrayed by the barbie. Even if it means destrying herself. ANYTHING FOR BEAUTY...

| Posted on 2008-11-06 | by a guest


.: :.

The word casket sticks out the most. She's not really in a casket or dead- she's getting some sort of cosmetic surgery to improve her looks. The speaker of the poem is relating that to death by using the word casket.

| Posted on 2008-09-19 | by a guest


.: ... :.

Once she becomes a woman, it is then she becomes ugly. Although she is strong and mature, clever and passionate, none of these things are valued. Because beauty is equated with extreme youth (almost childlike, with skinny limbs and small features), the fact of her womanhood was irreconcilable with 'beauty'. So she decided to offer her strength and health up: for a woman it is thought better to die beautiful and debilitated than to live non-beautiful and strong.

| Posted on 2008-03-25 | by a guest


.: Societal Demands :.

I believe that Piercy is pointing out the truth within our society. Our society is so consumed by the importance of appearance that as individuals we judge others based on this superficial concept. There is an emphasis placed on being "feminine," meaning slender, pretty, and soft. Because the "Girl Child" does not fit this profile perfectly others judge her, “big nose and fat legs.” The “girl child” has a good attitude though; she carries on “apologetically.” She conforms to “play coy, exhorted to come on hearty, exercise, diet, smile and wheedle.” This life of trying to please wears on the girl. Out of rage that her nose and legs have been such a burden or in attempt to conform to society’s expectations she cuts off her nose and her legs. Only in her last public appearance do people say “doesn’t she look pretty.” There is an irony in the last lines, to every woman a happy ending.

| Posted on 2005-12-08 | by Approved Guest




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