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Essay on Figurative Language in A Work of Artifice

Figurative Language in A Work of Artifice by Marge Piercy

“A clever trick, crafty device, or stratagem” is how Webster’s Encyclopedia of Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language defines Artifice. Marge Piercy definitely used “crafty” techniques in writing “A Work of Artifice.” In this poem, Piercy reflects on the growth of a bonsai tree, considering the molded existence of what it is to what it could have naturally been. With deeper analysis of this poem, the correlation between a bonsai tree and the shaped role of women within society becomes evident. The poet introduces one specific metaphor in the beginning, comparing the growth of a bonsai tree to the development of women. This single metaphor is supported throughout the remainder of the poem by the implementing a significant shift, using imagery, and using additional metaphors.

The first three-quarters of Piercy’s poem focuses on just the bonsai tree, in regards to its potential and what it has actually become. In this segment of the poem, the writer refers to the bonsai tree using the direct article and direct addresses. Both techniques are utilized to describe the tree in detail. For example, using the direct address, Piercy explains: “It is nine inches high.” The poet then changes the voice in line12, but still specifically focuses on the tree: “It is your nature to be small and weak.” Such a slight alteration as the speaker uses “your” is a transition for the major shift within Piercy’s poem. The writer had focused strictly on the bonsai tree in lines previous to line 17. At line 17, she encourages the reader to relate the bonsai tree to “living creatures.” Opening up the topic of the poem beyond the concept of the bonsai tree is a method used to make …

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…of Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language as “a tree or shrub that has been dwarfed by certain methods, as by pruning the roots and pinching and wiring the shoots and branches to produce a desired shape and effect.” In her poem, “A Work of Artifice,” Marge Piercy uses artifice to express to her readers how women, similar to the bonsai tree, have been “pinched and pruned” into a molded role within society. Piercy employs this metaphoric comparison between the tree and women to support her theme throughout the entire poem. The various poetic devices that facilitate the writer’s comparison include a voice shift of the speaker, use of imagery, and further use of metaphors. Marge Piercy is very successful in subtly conveying her message to her readers. She is able to present the growth of women and the limitations they have faced without hastily attacking the issue.

Setting and Organization in Poe’s The Masque (Mask) of the Red Death

Setting and Organization in The Masque of the Red Death

“The prince had provided all the appliances of pleasure. There were buffoons, there were improvisatori, there were ballet-dancers, there were musicians, there was Beauty, there was wine. All these and security were within. Without was the ‘Red Death,'” (209). As Edgar Allen Poe set the scene for his story, he also created an ominous mood and a sense of suspense supported by the setting. He details the fun and amusement inside the prince’s abbey, in contrast to the horror and doom outside, and the reader’s curiosity is piqued, because such bliss cannot be maintained for long. Throughout the story Poe explicates and changes elaborate environments to build the suspenseful energy and create a strong structure. In “The Masque of the Red Death,” setting is employed to organize motives and action, and to focus the reader on the climax. Poe targets the culminating point of his story using rich descriptions of the abbey, the masquerade, and the clock.

In the beginning, the general situation is explained and the broad location of the story is established. While a dreadful disease ravages the countryside, Prince Prospero and his friends lock themselves up to escape and forget the fate of their neighbors. Their plan is easily identifiable, and the audience can certainly relate to their wish to leave the world behind them and exist in a processed utopia. The description of an isolated and hidden abbey reflects the prince’s wish for concealment and his indifference to his responsibilities to the commoners. Poe stresses the magnificent height of the fortress walls and the welded iron gates to enforce an image of strength and protection. He also includes the entrapmen…

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…agraph, the author mentions that the disease had come “like a thief in the night,” but this statement is entirely untrue. Poe wrote a cohesive story which acknowledges the fear of trapping oneself in a doomed situation. Ironically, the very place the Prospero built to keep himself safe led to his hideous destruction. However, the audience was never permitted to believe that the prince would escape death, because even Poe’s choice of environments reflect the triumph of the plague; the isolation and quarantine of the abbey, the fever and delirium of the masquerade, and finally the progression of time and eventual death. The clock strikes midnight, and with its shadowy expiration, “the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all,” (213).

Works Cited

Poe, Edgar Allen. “The Mask of the Red Death.” The Works of Edgar Allen Poe. Ann Arbor, MI: State Street Press.

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