Paradoxical Expectations In Marge Piercy's Barbie Doll

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Marge Piercy's poem Barbie Doll tells of a young girl and her experience through adolescence. It illuminates the destruction wreaked when unrealistic expectations and gender limitations become socially acceptable. This poem ends with the tragic suicide of the girl and how only in death did she embody the ideals set by society. Piercy exposes the paradoxical expectations set by American culture through the use of explicit diction, simile, and irony. Within the first four lines the girl is guided towards the expectations set in her future. Referred to as a ”girlchild”, her gender becomes her identity (Sepe), forsaking her chance for an individual path. In lines two and three the girl is “Presented dolls that did pee-pee and miniature GE stoves and irons”. The doll represents the girl becoming a mother and the stove and iron are objects typically associated with housekeeping (Sepe) thus acclimating the girl to the idea of housework and motherhood being the central dogma in a woman's life. Piercy specifically writes “ presented” so as to bring attention to formality of the process, making it sound like a tradition rather than a choice. A key theme of the poem is the importance of looks correlating to the treatment received by…show more content…
The term “magic” is used ironically as “she is also referring to the pain that comes with puberty”(milne) when her classmate says “you have a great big nose and fat legs”. Her classmate represents society (Sigit) and this is further proven when it is stated that “everyone saw a fate nose on thick legs”. Overtime the opinion and conception of one developed into the opinion of many overwhelming the girl driving her to her tragic end. Moreover the girl “ was advised to play coy, exhorted to come on hearty” further overwhelming the girl due to the contradictory nature of the statement. this Contradiction is paralleled when the girl is advised to “ exercise, diet, smile and
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