Critical Analysis Of My Papa's Waltz By Theodore Roethke

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The text I am going to be analyzing is ‘My Papa’s Waltz’, a poem written by Theodore Roethke. The poem was written in 1942. The poem discusses a domestic situation of a little boy describing the behaviour and characteristics of his parents, especially his father. Roethke had a difficult relationship with his father, who died when he was fifteen, and the poem reflects that. The themes of the poem are family and admiration. The poem targets a broad audience, but is specifically interesting to those that can relate to the situation sketched in the poem. These would be people that suffer from a difficult relationship with their father, but love their father nonetheless. Roethke himself lost his father, and feels like a lost child without him. This can be concluded from the tone and mood, which will be discussed in a later paragraph. The purpose of the text is to entertain readers and to show readers a part of Roethke's childhood. The poem discusses Roethke’s relationship with his father. His father is described as a drunk, with hints of violence. This can be concluded from the lines ‘The hand that held my wrist Was battered on one knuckle’. The son loves his father, he clings onto him while they’re dancing, but it is not cleared up if the love is mutual. The father is a drunk and beats his son on his head. The dance itself is…show more content…
The irony is present in the waltz, because the dance the father forces the boy to dance is anything but a waltz. The boy describes it as romping, which isn’t flattering like a Waltz at all. The father ‘waltzed’ the boy to bed, but it is more likely that the father forced the boy, while holding his wrist and stumbling drunkenly, to bed. In this way, the waltz can also be seen as a metaphor for the way the father treats his child. The line ‘But I hung on like death’ contains a simile that sets the mood, as discussed before. He is hanging on so tightly, it shows that he is desperate and maybe even
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