Summary Of Howl By Allen Ginsberg

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Introduction This paper aims to investigate and explain the female representation in the writings of the Beat Generation during the 1950s. For this purpose I have chosen to analyse ‘Howl’, a poem written by Allen Ginsberg in 1955 with a more detailed insight on the first part of the poem (I). The main focus will be on how the author is portraying women and how their sexual identity plays a role in this image. To contextualise and analyse the poem, I will apply three approaches: the Feminist, the Queer and the Linguistic approach. The feminist approach will give us insight on how women are being marginalised and objectified, whereas the queer context compares the sexual identity with the way women are represented. The linguistic view will explain how the language in ‘Howl’ is used as critique against society. The Poem ‘Howl’ was written in 1955 and first published as part of Allen Ginsberg’s collection of poetry under the title of ‘Howl and Other Poems’ in 1956. The poem was perceived as being raw, angry and sexually explicit. The mere definition of howl gives us a good insight of the mood of the poem: “to utter a loud, prolonged, mournful cry, as that of a dog or wolf […] a similar cry in distress, pain, rage […]”. The first part of the poem was written during the period of the post-World War II, it praises the freedom of personal identity and separation from social norms. Thus, ‘Howl’ was a cry for help, a rebellion against the American society and their values.

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