Essay on To Be of Use by Marge Piercy

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Marge Piercy's poem "To Be of Use" expresses an opposing connotation about the idea of work. Most people believe the words "hard work" carry a negative connotation. What these words imply is not something that is generally received with enthusiasm but is often accepted either by force or obligation. The poem’s central theme is that satisfaction and self-fulfillment can be attained by using one's skills to serve a specific function in life, for it is the opinion of the speaker that an unproductive existence has no value or significance because it is vain, and pointless. Piercy uses figurative language, imagery, description, symbolism, and details to develop this theme throughout the poem. The narrator begins developing the theme in…show more content…
By including the details "people who harness themselves" in this line, the narrator implies that what makes these people so honorable is that they are ready and willing to become the "ox"; they do not need to be coaxed or forced to commit themselves to a task. The narrator adds that those whom he respects "pull like water buffalo, with massive patience" (9). Here Piercy's figure of speech makes the speaker convey the idea that although they are heavy laden, they remain dedicated and devoted to their aims. When the narrator describes that they "Strain in the mud and muck to move things forward" (10), the words mud and muck become symbols of the obstacles and unfavorable conditions that the speaker's favored people often have to contend with while working. Despite such discomfort and inconvenience, effort and determination, they persist and accomplish their goals. In addition, the speaker tells that he venerates people "who do what has to be done, again and again" (11). The repetition of the word “again” is a detail that puts emphasis on the traits of reliability and dependability that characterize the responsible attitude that the people the speaker admires take toward hard labor. Hence, in the first two stanzas, the narrator paints a picture of the virtues people he loves the best possess to help
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