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What literary devices are most important in Anne Bradstreet's poem, "The Author to...

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tmedas | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 21, 2011 at 3:03 AM via web

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What literary devices are most important in Anne Bradstreet's poem, "The Author to Her Book"?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 21, 2011 at 4:24 AM (Answer #1)

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In her poem "The Author to Her Book" Anne Bradstreet bemoans the quality of her work that has been exposed to the public because "alas [she] is poor."  Most importantly, the poem is written as an extended metaphor in which her literary endeavor is compared to "an ill-formed offspring," a child that has defects.  Bradstreet blushes at the return of her cast-off child whose appearance was "so irksome" in her sight, conveying her embarrassment that the work that "friends, less wise than true," have had published.

Within this extended metaphor, of course, there are other metaphors.  For instance, Bradstreet writes that she "washed" the face of the book, meaning she made attempts at improving its appearance and content, but in "rubbing off a spot, still made a flaw," in correcting one error she commits others.  The use of these metaphors describing her actions upon the book certainly personify the work as a child with an "irksome" face and "hobbling" legs that are metaphors also for the sequence of plot events.  The last line contains both personification and metaphor as the child/book (personification) is sent out of the door (metaphor), meaning it is put out for publication.  And "door" is an example of metonymy in which the door represents the whole house.

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