Anna Laetitia Barbauld Analysis of Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Note in the above two lines the way that the coming "doom" is emphasized by word order and the placement of active verbs at the end of each line. Use is also made telling adjectives such as "lowering sky" to emphasize the apparent awesomeness of the coming washing day.

The following lines express an obviously ironic comparison between the mundane images of washing day and tragic events in history.

Saints have been calm while stretched upon the rack,

And Guatimozin smil'd on burning coals;

But never yet did housewife notable

Greet with a smile a rainy washing-day.

Lines 29 -32)

The reference to the death of the Mexican Emperor Guatimozin makes the concerns and work of the maids and housewives seem extremely trivial and are a good example of the way that the mock-heroic expresses a point-of-view through satire.

The poem continues in this fashion to present a view of the subject from different class perspectives. For example the poem, through he use of imagery, suggests how the normal pleasant and entertaining pattern of experience that the mistress is used to is stopped by the tension that impending rain might bring.

The 'customed garden walks, thine eye shall rue

The budding fragrance of thy tender shrubs,

Myrtle or rose, all crushed beneath the weight

Of coarse check'd apron, with impatient hand

Twitch'd off when showers impend:

Lines 40 -44)

Again there is a purposeful exaggeration on the impending "shower" that threatens washing day. The poet also uses words and phrases that overemphasize and stress the feelings of the maids; for example, myrtle and rose are "...all crushed beneath the weight/of coarse check'd apron..." This not only stresses the panic of the maids but also possibly presents a different perspective from the point-of-view of the mistress of the house. This point-of-view is further enhanced by the fact that the central narrator in the poem is writing from memory and describes her perceptions of the maids during this time well remember, when a child, the awe

This day struck into me; for then the maids,

I scarce knew why, looked cross, and drove me from them;

lines 58 -60)

The child does not receive her "Usual indulgencies; jelly or creams," when the maids are busy with the washing day. This suggests that there is certain amount of social criticism in the poem.

The last lines bring the various strands of the poem together. The use of imagery brings the poem to another level of meaning.

Why washings were. Sometimes thro' hollow bowl

Of pipe amused we blew, and sent aloft

The floating bubbles, little dreaming then

To see, Mongolfier, thy silken ball

Ride buoyant through the clouds-so near approach

The sports of children and the toils of men.

Earth, air, and sky, and ocean, hath its bubbles,

And verse is one of them-this most of all.

A lines 79-86)

It is important to analyze these final lines in the context of the poem as a whole. A clue to the deeper meaning of these lines lies in the comparison of the great achievements of Mongolfier with the actions and events preceding washing day. While this comparison is obviously ironic there is a sense in which the poem becomes less satirical in intention and more philosophical. For example in the line" the sports of children and the toils of men" the poet seem to suggest that in the end all our activities have there same source in human work and play. Even though the activities of a washing day may be mundane and commonplace yet they are also part of the complex and interesting cycle of human activity and Endeavour. There is a sense that these final lines convey the unity of human actions and events.

Earth, air, and sky, and ocean, hath its bubbles,

And verse is one of them-this most of all.

Washing day and the great inventions of the time all play a part in life and, in the final analysis, all form a part of the art of life and poetry..


Washing-Day. April 29, 2007.>

Joseph Michel Montgolfier and Jacques-etienne Montgolfier were the inventors of the hot air balloon.

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