My Papa's Waltz: an Analysis of Speaker and Situation Essay

772 Words Mar 6th, 2006 4 Pages
The poem "My Papa's Waltz" by Theodore Roethke is a moving representation of childhood spent in a working middle class family. The speaker of this poem is a man recalling his childhood, his father and his mother through the means of a waltz. The following essay will present a detailed analysis of the dramatic situation and speaker through the explanations of the various poetic tools used in this poem such as similes, choice of words and style. Theodore Roethke portrays the father figure as a working class man he does so by his description of him and thus his choice of words. For example, line 9 and 10, says that the father's hand was battered or even more so in line 14, the description of his palm is caked hard by dirt. The …show more content…
It is also seen in the title, the word "papa" is a warm word in contrast to the word father. Throughout the text there seem to have a particular roughness to the actions, for instance, the pans sliding off the shelf, the mother's countenance, which would not unfrown it self and the father's whiskey breath are all image that represents the hardships of life, for example, the father drink after a long hard day of manual labor. Although these images can be seen has child abuse if you take them out of the poems context. The child abuse angle is more evident in line 13 where the father beats time on the child's head because of the connotation to abuse the word "beat" involves. Due to the simple middle class language of the text, the phrase beat time is common use for counting time, thus the social context is important for the comprehension of this poem. Theodore Roethke's poem "My Papa's Waltz" is a Shakespearian sonnet composed of four couplet and of a rhyming scheme style a,b,a,b, which aids to depict the rhythmic movement of a waltz. The movement of the waltz is also conveyed to the reader through the actions of the poem.. For example, both the first couplet and the last couplet involve the child holding his father. And, in line 5 they "romped" which used to be said of renaissance and medieval women's attire
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