What peotic devices are used to enhance the emotional effects of the poem "Snow White," written by Adrea Hollander Budy?

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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Truthfully, this is a hard question to answer because (1) the emotion rarely rises much above cynicism and (2) the poetic devices are few. Let's suppose, though, there is more emotion in this than is apparent and let's take a deep look for poetic devices and see what we can see.

The first emotional interaction between reader and persona (who may be supposed to be identical with the poet in this instance) comes during the imagery describing the hunt for footprints: "scavenging through wildflowers." Following this, Budy introduces "footprints of your own children." This evokes an immediate emotional reaction of shock and protectiveness (later this turns to sympathy when the persona reveals her true desire).

The rhetorical/poetic device used to evoke this emotional response, in the middle of the imagery device, is juxtaposition. In juxtaposition, two things are put in close proximity. Often these are contrasting things, often the familiar with the unfamiliar, like your children's footsteps and the little men's footsteps.

Another rhetorical/poetic device Budy uses to enhance/create emotional effects is that of asking rhetorical questions: "if no one
were looking, wouldn't you / take a bite?" Rhetorical questions serve to make a point by asking questions the answers to which are already assumed and which need no stating. The object of rhetorical questions is to make and dramatize a point; to create emphasis; to generate emotional reaction.

Actually, it might be successfully argued that the reason this poem is light on poetic devices, relying instead upon rhetorical devices, is that it is not a poem at all; it is a prose paragraph arranged in poetic-style lines. This assertion might be supported two ways. First: There is no cadence to the language; it is the language of prose. While free verse does not employ metrical units and rhyme, English poetry is distinguished by cadence; it is cadence (and metrics) that distinguishes English poetry from English prose. Second: If the verse divisions were removed and the language arranged as a paragraph, it would read as prose; the only thing distinguishing this as poetry is the visual line arrangement.


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