Analysis Of Surprise By Jane Kenyon

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I Swear, It’s Not What It Looks Like:
Denial, Selective Perception, and Fear of Betrayal in Jane Kenyon’s “Surprise” Television psychologists and pop culture self-help gurus tell us that marriage is hard work; marriage is compromise; marriage is a choice between being right, and being happy. All of these statements are true. What these experts don’t tell us, however, is that marriage is also about putting on blinders, or looking on the bright side, or one of a hundred other trite phrases to explain the art of self-deception. In marriage, there are times when we may find it necessary to look the other way from our spouse’s faults or indiscretions, in the interest of self-preservation. For if we examine these problems too closely, our darkest, most secret fears may come true. Therefore, it can seem easier to focus on the positive. In her poem “Surprise,” Jane Kenyon uses denial, selective perception, and fear of betrayal to illustrate the self-deception that can occur in marriage. The woman in “Surprise” is in denial about her husband’s behavior. On the surface, the poem is about a woman whose husband gets her out of the house while their friends gather in secret for a birthday party. She goes along with his ruse of going out for breakfast, followed by a walk. She doesn’t seem to be aware that a party is in the works, even though her friends are arriving, their cars “pulled close along the sandy shoulders/ of the road” (5-6). This willful blindness on her part

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