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'A Woman's Work' Poem Explication

Decent Essays
A Mother’s Work
ENG/125
March 6, 2013

A Mother’s Work
A liquid takes the form of the container into which it is poured. Similarly, an artist chooses a medium for painting or sculpture, and a poet chooses a form. This aesthetic should complement the artist’s overall theme. In the case of “Woman’s Work” by Julia Alvarez, the chosen form is a villanelle. This form is very restrictive and repetitive, often used to express some sort of obsessiveness. Alvarez slightly modifies the traditional structure of the villanelle repetition and rhyme scheme by using a lot of feminine rhymes and repeating lines in spirit but not necessarily in law. In much the same way, the rigid repetitiveness of housework done by the author’s mother is the
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790). As her mother’s “masterpiece,” she now sees how the repetition and practice of keeping house is not oppressive, but expressive. In the same way that a villanelle is able to express powerful emotions with its repetitiveness, so is the “housewife” able to impress upon her family the degree of her love and devotion to their well-being.
In the final stanza Alvarez expresses her frustration, her amazement, and finally her acceptance of her
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