Analysis of ‘Patterns’ Written by Amy Lowell Essay

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Amy Lowell is an American imagist poet who uses descriptive language to create specific images in a readers mind. Set in the Victorian era (1800’s,) the dramatic monologue ‘Patterns’ explores the restrictions of unmarried women in society and the desire for freedom. My view of these issues is that of a feminist reader living in a democratic modern day society, where men and women live in a state of equality and have the right to express their opinions. A feminist reading focuses on the specific treatment of women. Through Lowell’s wondrous use of the poetic techniques, primarily visual imagery (symbolism, repetition, contrasts) and poetic voice (persona and tone,) a modern day feminist reader’s negative views of the restricted lifestyles …show more content…

This develops the idea that her future with this man as a married woman provided a stable lifestyle where she would not have to live by the rigid patterns of society, reinforcing a modern day feminist reader’s view of the expectations and restrictions placed on unmarried women during the Victorian era.

There is a distinct contrast between appearance and reality, which works to reinforce the idea of confining individualistic behaviours to retain the ‘pattern’ of society. In stanza two, she says that “tripping by in high-heeled, ribboned shoes/ (there is) not a softness anywhere about (her)” (lines 16 and 17) when she’s wearing “only whalebone and brocade” (line 18.) The term ‘whalebone’ refers to a whalebone corset, which is a very hard material that is restrictive to movement. By describing her actions as ‘tripping,’ a modern day feminist reader is reinforced that she is not coping in her current lifestyle where she is limited to living in a strict manner. In the next stanza, she says that “underneath (her) stiffened gown/ Is the softness of a woman” (lines 32 and 33.) This develops the idea that the way she dresses is a deceiving appearance, because she is not as stiff and stable on the inside as she comes across on the outside. Deep down she is soft and sad, in mourning of the loss of her lover, yet she cannot express these emotions due to the expectations and restrictions of women during the Victorian era.

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