Daystar by Rita Dove
This research paper should be on the Poem “Daystar” by Rita Dove. The research paper needs to use the same sources that were provided by you on the annotated bibliography which I will attach. You can use what you need from the paper just ensure that it is a research paper. The Works Cited page should have at least six secondary sources in alphabetical order. These should include three books and three journal articles.
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7 December 2014
Essay # 5
Dove’s DayStar Poem – Woman’s Stifled Situation in Society
Rita Dove’s Daystar poem describes a woman who is overwhelmed by her wifely and motherly duties. The depicted woman is deprived of personal time because she acts as a wife, changes baby diapers and carries out cleaning chores. The poem specifically explores the experiences of a housewife. Ironically, although she spends the entire day at home, this woman’s hands are practically full throughout. After carrying out cleaning and baby care duties during the day, this woman has to attend to the husband when he comes home in the evening. The woman’s life is monotonous, boring and dull.
The speaker describes phenomena in a very clear and vivid manner, thus reflecting use of imagery. Such imagery would arouse audiences’ senses, prompting readers to imagine the portrayed woman’s existence. In the first line, the depicted woman is exhausted and needs time to think (Dovea Line 1). Nevertheless, this woman’s quest for calmness is thwarted by the existence of soiled diapers that need to be cleaned. The toy that is “slumped behind the door” symbolizes the mental and physical exhaustion of the depicted woman (Dovea Line 4; Summers and Hoffman 57). Such fatigue results from the endless duties that this woman cannot run away from. This woman feels lifeless. Her only avenue for feeling free entails indulging in thoughts during the brief moments in which she feels alone and relaxed.
Ironically, some aspects that appear to calm the depicted woman are considered socially awkward. These features include “the pinched armour of a vanished cricket, [and] / a floating maple leaf” (Dovea Lines 9, 10). These items reflect destruction and would thus not calm a person in normal situations. The fact that this woman finds solace in these entities emphasizes that the lady is deprived of time, leisure and fun (Dovea Lines 9, 10; Doveb 198). The woman’s life is characterized by continuous labor. This woman is a generous giver but does not receive anything in return. The woman seems sad and withdrawn as she hopes for better times and some positive difference in her life.
Dove’s main theme concerns entrapment; the depicted woman is ensnared within a mundane existence. The poem explores the entrapment of women based on society’s views about what female members should be. Considering that “Thomas…/ lurched into her’”, the entrapped person is a married woman (Dovea Lines 21, 22). Thomas is evidently the depicted woman’s husband. This woman is also a mother since “Lisa appeared pouting … And just what was mother doing” (Dovea Lines 16, 18). Lisa is obviously the woman’s young daughter who is inquisitive. The portrayed woman desires to escape the entrapment caused by the husband and Lisa.
Within the first stanza, the depicted woman clearly expresses her yearning for personal space, both mentally and physically. She “[wants] a little room for thinking” (Dovea Line 1). The term ‘room’ in this case, symbolizes both physical as well as psychological aspects. Physically, the depicted woman desires to escape from her house that has various disturbing distractions. Mentally, this woman aspires to stop thinking about motherly duties with the aim of attaining elevated psychological awareness. This yearning is never quite fulfilled as it is repeatedly pushed back. The daily chores of wife and motherhood take centre stage and replace the woman’s yearning. The sight of “diapers steaming / on the line” quashes any hope that this woman would ever be free (Dovea Line 1, 2).
In the second stanza, the doll symbolizes the depicted woman’s abandonment and self neglect. In this regard, the speaker reports that “A doll [is] slumped behind the door” (Dovea Line 4). Rejection and self neglect are factors of the woman’s entrapment. This doll represents the woman’s neglected life; those around the woman neglect this lady. Nobody pays any attention to the depicted woman except when the woman’s compatriots need her. To illustrate this idea, the speaker reports, “Later that night … Thomas …/ lurched into her” (Dove 58; Dovea Lines 21, 22). In turn, the woman neglects herself. The woman’s self neglect is evidenced by her choice of activity during her free time. Instead of looking at her free time as an opportunity for relaxation and for carrying out self satisfying activities, the woman regards her free time as time, ‘to sit out the / children’s naps” (Dovea Lines 6, 7 ). The slumped position of the doll can also reflect the woman’s resignation to her circumstances and her hopelessness because there is no way out.
As she sits behind the garage, the woman considers a number of matters. Her thinking can be seen as an unconscious reflection about her inner desires. She seems to desire escape from her current circumstances but feels ill equipped to do so. The “vanished cricket” and “pinched armour” represent such desire for escape (Dovea Line 9). Given that her existence is determined by external forces, this woman feels purposeless and directionless. The woman’s lack of self direction is symbolized by the “maple leaf” whose direction is determined by the wind (Dovea Line 10). To illustrate the woman’s directionless nature, the speaker mentions “‘a floating maple leaf” (Dovea Line 10). The woman seems to be in a continuous search for meaning; she keeps discovering herself. To confirm this idea, the speaker notes that “when she closed her eyes, she’d only see her own vivid blood” (Dovea Lines 12-14). This statement illustrates the woman’s self-discovery. This stanza further illustrates that the woman has totally lost herself and that the only way she can reconnect is by zoning off and staring into nothing. The phrase “‘she’d only see her own vivid blood” reflects the woman’s detachment from society (Dovea Lines 13, 14). This passage can also illustrate the woman’s achievement of freedom. This is because her inner, real self only comes out and roams around freely when the woman is disconnected from everything.
The theme of entrapment is furthered through the woman’s daughter (Carlisle 135). Compared to the mother, this female child appears to assume a superior position. The speaker reports that the daughter is “at the top of the stairs” (Dovea Line 17). According to the daughter, the mother holds a similar position with “the mice” (Dovea Line 19). To illustrate this notion, the daughter wonders, “And just what was mother doing / out there with the field mice” (Dovea Lines 18, 19). Through the phrase “and just what”, the daughter shows an element of contempt for the mother (Dovea Line 19). This notion is affirmed by the daughter’s damning conclusion; the mother must have engaged in meaningless activities. By posing the rhetorical question, “‘why, [was mother] building a palace”, the daughter demonstrates that the mother’s pursuit is worthless (Dovea Line 20).
Through the depiction of the woman’s husband, the theme of entrapment is carried further in the last stanza. There is no indication that any communication that would ease the lady’s loneliness occurs between the husband and the woman. Instead, the speaker creates an image of oppression (Mullen 234). This is because Thomas, the woman’s husband, fulfils his sexual needs without any regard for the wife’s feelings. This suppression is evidenced through the term “lurched” within the phrase, “Thomas / rolled over and lurched into her [woman]” (Dovea Lines 21, 22). This description is in contrast to phrases that are conventionally used to express similar situations. These alternative terminologies include “making love” (Dovec 105).
The theme of entrapment is also illustrated by the woman herself. While examining her situation, she acts as if she were somebody else looking in from outside herself. This is evidenced by the fact that during her relations with her husband, the woman separates herself from what is happening and drifts off to another place. Through the phrase, “She would open her eyes / and think of the place that was her’s / for an hour”, the speaker communicates this idea (Dovea Lines 23-25). This can be seen as a figurative window that illustrates her desire to escape (Spiegelman 228). The woman also describes herself in relation to her place of escape that is, being “nothing, pure nothing” (Dovea Lines 25, 26).
In conclusion, Dove’s DayStar poem can be interpreted in two ways. One approach entails the struggle of a woman within the difficult circumstances she finds herself in and the roles she plays as both wife and mother. In all this, the woman tries to escape a vicious cycle of monotony. She seeks to find herself and identify her purpose. On the other hand, the poem could be seen as symbolizing the place of a “woman in society” (Summers and Hoffman 55). The woman has a limited worldview and is relegated to motherhood and wifely duties. The harshness of the woman’s environment deprives her of support that would help her to actualize herself. Neither the husband nor the woman’s offspring offer help. This situation is especially ironical because the child who looks down on the woman is a daughter who is likely to end up in identical circumstances. If the daughter encounters similar experiences, the vicious cycle involving suppression of the woman in the society will be enhanced. In the recent past, women’s roles were limited to child bearing, being wives and housekeeping.
DayStar clearly shows that female suppression is depressing since it deprives women of wholesome lives. This is in the sense that the depicted woman has no career and does not have an opportunity to further her education or hobbies. Lisa, the daughter, looks down on the mother. Lisa’s contempt signifies that, other than begin burdened with excessive responsibilities, the older woman has no place in the society. These downsides do not however seem to deter the adult woman from enjoying her not-so-privileged-life (Dovec 21). This discussion shows that the woman struggles for freedom in her own ways. Neither does she neglect her duties nor is she rebellious. Rather, the woman copes with her restrained life. The poem also shows that a woman is vital in society. The man (husband) and children all look up to her. No one is concerned with how the woman is fairing, feeling or what she would like to have. This woman continuously gives and ends up drained. She however manages to retain some strength for the responsibilities that await her.
Summers, and Hoffman. [Eds.]. Domestic Violence: A Global View. Illustrated ed. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002. Print.
Summers and Hoffman’s text is important to this essay because it offers a comprehensive definition about the concept of domestic abuse. According to the authors, domestic abuse denotes whatever form of mistreatment, including: sexual, physical, and psychological. Abuse can be perpetrated by one or all of the persons in situations wherein people reside together. The married woman in Dove’s DayStar poem suffers psychological and sexual abuse. By forcing himself onto the wife, Thomas, the husband, sexually abuses the woman. The woman’s neglected condition whereby she is not treasured by the daughter and the husband reflects psychological abuse.
Dove, Rita. Through the Ivory Gate. Saint Louis, MO: San Val, Incorporated, 1993. Print.
Dove’s Through the Ivory Gate novel is useful to the paper because the novel features elements that are examined in the poem. Within the novel, a female protagonist named Virginia King throws away an African American baby doll that was obtained from this character’s grandmother. Through this action, King refuses to accept the society’s patronizing views about women. Being a representative of the society, the grandmother gifts King with a doll to encourage King to embrace society’s accepted femininity that is limiting. King does not want her individual potentials to be stifled by these restrictive societal norms. She seeks a reality that transcends such conventional gender-based values. While reflecting on her predicament in the Daystar poem, the depicted woman mirrors King’s ideology. Both women realize that the society-ascribed lives they lead are harmfully limiting and yearn for alternative existences.
Dove, Rita. The Poet’s World: A Collection of Essays. New York: MacMillan Publishers. 2006. Print.
The Poet’s World is thematically significant to the present paper because the themes of gender, women’s suppression and desire for emancipation are evident in this volume. The paper touches on these themes with regard to the experiences of the unnamed mother and wife within the DayStar poem. The various essays of The Poet’s World show that Dove is interested in examining the status of the woman in society. This volume also demonstrates that Dove takes exception with women’s subjugated condition and would like this situation to change.
Mullen, Harryette. “Rita Dove’s Adolescence II and Hully Gully.” The Explicator 70.3 (2012): 234-237. Print.
Mullen’s article is significant to the paper because it describes some of Dove’s literary themes that are discussed in the essay. According to Mullen, within the Yellow House on the Corner text, Dove explores the concept of awakening among girls. Dove explores similar themes of freedom and self-discovery in the Grace Notes poetry collection. Through such exploration, Dove shows that the roles that are ascribed to girls based on gender considerations impede the liberty of female youngsters. Mullen’s article mirrors the content of the paper because both works show that women suffer gender-based limitations of freedom that are harmful. The constrained situation of the woman in the Daystar poem resembles the predicament of the girls that Mullen looks at.
Carlisle, Theodora. “Reading the Scars – Rita Doves The Darker Face of the Earth.” African American Review 34.1 (2000): 135-150. Print.
Carlisle’s article looks at some of the thematic bases for Dove’s The Darker Face of the Earth play. By stating that Dove explores the power and domination aspects of human relationships in the play, the article reveals an important aspect of Dove’s literature. This power and domination-based feature is reflected in the DayStar Poem. Considering that the paper examines the power and dominance dynamics within the depicted woman’s family, Carlisle’s article is thematically relevant to the essay.
Willard, Spiegelman. “Rita Dove Dancing.” Virginia Quarterly Review 81.1 (2005):228-234. Print.
With reference to Dove’s American Smooth work, Spiegelman explains that Dove focuses on the theme of freedom. According to Spiegelman, Dove advocates a dance style in which female and male participant are at liberty to disengage from each other’s grips. This physical detachment permits dance partners to express themselves in individual ways and facilitates improvisation. Spiegelman’s explanation reflects the content of the paper because the essay examines the liberty status of the depicted woman in DayStar. The paper argues that the woman would obtain the benefit of freedom if the daughter and the husband stop impeding the woman’s personal desires. This matter makes Spiegelman’s article thematically important to the essay.
Carlisle, Theodora. “Reading the Scars – Rita Doves The Darker Face of the Earth.” African American Review 34.1 (2000): 135-150. Print.
Dove, Rita.a “DayStar.” Black Poetry, Black Poems, Black Poets, n.d. Web. 4 Dec. 2014.
Dove, Rita.b Through the Ivory Gate. Saint Louis, MO: San Val, Incorporated, 1993. Print.
Dove, Rita.c The Poet’s World: A Collection of Essays. New York: MacMillan Publishers. 2006. Print.
Mullen, Harryette. “Rita Dove’s Adolescence II and Hully Gully.” The Explicator 70.3 (2012): 234-37. Print.
Spiegelman, Willard. “Rita Dove Dancing.” Virginia Quarterly Review 81.1 (2005): 228-234. Print.
Summers, Randal, and Hoffman Allan Michael. [Eds.]. Domestic Violence: A Global View. Illustrated ed. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002. Print.
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