Defamiliarization In William Carlos Williams's To A Poor Old Woman

Decent Essays

What do words actually mean? When we are reading, many of us don’t actually stop to think about the meaning of each word (unless the word is unfamiliar), instead we just assume what it means—we read automatically. Looking at the poem, “To A Poor Old Woman” by William Carlos Williams, we see the Shklovsky’s concept of “defamiliarization” in use. When we look at Shklovsky’s concept, “The technique of art is to make objects ‘unfamiliar’ to make forms difficult, to increase the difficulty and length of perception because the process of perception is an aesthetic end in itself and must be prolonged” (Rivkin and Ryan 9). Using this same concept, looking at the first stanza of “To a Poor Old Woman,” we see the way that the stanza was structured in a way to make it unfamiliar. The author splits the sentences up where they normally wouldn’t be split up, so that gives that sense of unfamiliarity, so we begin to question what the words actually mean. If a person attempts to read it as a normal sentence, we would see that someone is eating a plum, the street is a paper bag, and something is in her hand. The reason I believe the lines are broken up in a “weird” way is because it’s trying to give that sense of unfamiliarity to get an audience to focus on what this stanza is really trying to say. Looking at the second stance, we see the repetition of “They taste good to her” written in different forms. This repetition gives an unfamiliar sense because each time it repeats, it gives off

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