Anne Bradstreet Prologue Poem

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Reclamation of Identity and Self-Expression in Anne Bradstreet’s “Prologue”

Anne Bradstreet’s “Prologue” emphasises on individual assertion as one of the most powerful ways to combat hierarchical power structures. In doing so, it facilitates a possible reclamation of one’s individual identity in a time dominated by oppressive politics. Bradstreet achieves this not by claiming to “conquer” the authority of power structures, but by asserting her own agency within them.

My essay argues that “Prologue” assigns one’s individual will the ability to challenge restrictive external constructs. In this sense, it expands itself into a universal space. It gives credence to the very voice of the female poetess.

The very first lines of the poem illustrate
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“From a School Boy’s tongue, no hetoric we expect”, Bradstreet claims. However, as has been pointed by in her essay, school boys do go on to be trained in the art of rhetoric.

Therefore, such an idea holds within it very significant and powerful implications. By positing it, Bradstreet locates poetry as a learning trajectory. She also sees herself as at the beginning of it.

Hence, she points at her capability for further growth, learning and exploration in it. At the same time, she also rejects the confinement that can come with being an “established poet.” Rather than conceptualising poetry as a “fixed” form of art— she views it as dynamic, interactive and perpetuating. This also challenging the hierarchies of literary trajectories, and the delimitations they engender. It can also be observed that the lines employ once again a sense of ironic juxtaposition. Rhetorical abilities are employed to explore the ideas of “rhetoric”.
Further, Bradstreet states that “nor yet a Sweet consort” arises from “broken strings”. However, the very crux of the idea she propounds is that a “broken string” cannot represent a “sweet consort”. It must mirror its own actuality. Therefore, Bradstreet speaks here of the individual self’s authentic representation. She seems to state that the oppression of broken and fragmented lives should be represented with complete authenticity and
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She illustrates this by citing the example of Demosthenes, a Greek orator who overcame his “lisp” by practising speech. However, she also says that she might herself be incapable of it, given the fact that she possesses a “weak and wounded brain”. Here, she does not refer to her incapability as a poet, but of the “irreparability” consigned to her gender. This suggests the idea that her “weak and wounded brain” isn’t a construct of her own—but one which has been imposed on her. It is how women are perceived to be like, and also conditioned to believe of
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