The Significance of Literary Knowledge in Parodic Poetry: A Look At Anthony Hecht’s "The Dover Bitch"

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A precritical response to any literature can be loosely defined as the initial raw, emotional reaction to the piece. The feeling of confusion, disgust, impassiveness, or pure joy can follow any reading. On the other hand, a critical response is a critical evaluation or, more specifically, an intellectual response to a piece of literature. Critically thinking about a piece of literature involves taking the work and breaking it down into different parts, thus aiding in understanding the work and specific parts of it to the work as a whole. However, this is easier said than done. Being able to think critically about a text takes a vast knowledge of literature and a keen eye to recognize patterns, and each form comes with its own difficulties…show more content…
Hecht’s poem employs the use of a framed narrative to tell the perspective of the woman in the room. It is from her perspective that allows the reader to see where the title of the poem, The Dover Bitch, comes into play. The speaker says, “…[she] really felt sad, thinking about all the wine and enormous beds…and then she got really angry. To have been brought all the way down from London, and then be addressed as a sort of mournful cosmic last resort…” (Hecht, lines 13-18). From here, the reader is led to understand that the woman could really care less about what the speaker from Dover Beach was saying. She was more preoccupied with missing her materialistic lifestyle in London, or being so close to France and all of the extravagancies it has to offer. In Dover Beach the speaker pleads to the woman, “…let us be true to one another! For the world…hath really neither joy, nor love…” (Arnold, 29-33). The speaker of The Dover Bitch, at the end of the poem, claims to see the woman from time to time, suggesting that he is secretly her lover. By doing this Hecht, sets up a type of dramatic irony between the two poems. The speaker asked her to be true to him, and unbeknownst to him she was cheating with the speaker of The Dover Bitch. Thus, a critical analysis of The Dover Bitch can conclude that Hecht was criticizing the idea of Arnold’s poem that love can overcome the sadness and hurt that the world produces, because in the end love can be just as hurtful
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