Dorothy Parker American Literature Analysis
Lost love, love’s fleetingness, heartache, and disappointment, are Parker’s central themes. Romantic clichés, attitudes, and language are satirically attacked as relationships are exposed as self-serving, pretentious, hypocritical, and founded on miscommunication and people’s mistaken perceptions of one another. Society’s rules and codes are also ironically critiqued as enforcing these hypocrisies and misperceptions and causing alienation. As critic Arthur Kinney puts it, Parker’s women are “self-absorbed snobs, her men philanderers, scoundrels, or subservient husbands.” Injustice, insensitivity, and hollowness—whether in the rich upper class (as in “Arrangement in Black and White”) or in demanding, fickle male lovers who abandon or ignore the women grown dependent on them (as in “Mr. Durant”)—often form the emotional center of the story or poem as it affects the oppressed or rejected woman protagonist. Parker’s sympathies always lie with the outcast figures, those who are marginalized because of gender, race, or class. These same figures, however, are sometimes ironized and satirized as delusional, self-absorbed, and responsible for creating their own problems.
Often the wit, humor, and ludicrousness of a given protagonist or speaker or situation masks an underlying despair, loneliness, isolation, and lack of communication. Sometimes Parker openly uses modernist devices to explore these themes—fragmentation, alienation,...
(The entire section is 1926 words.)
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