Is dramatic persona one of the main features in Gwendolyn Brooks' poem "The Mother?"

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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In order to understand Gwendolyn Brooks' part in her poem entitled, "The Mother," one must understand what "dramatic persona" actually is.

Dr. L. Kip Wheeler provides a definition of the "persona" which is:

An external representation of oneself which might or might not accurately reflect one's inner self, or an external representation of oneself that might be largely accurate, but involves exaggerating certain characteristics and minimizing others.

Dr. Wheeler proceeds to define the poetic speaker:

The narrative or elegiac voice in a poem (such as a sonnet, ode, or lyric) that speaks of his or her situation or feelings. It is a convention in poetry that the speaker is not the same individual as the historical author of the poem.

The website of the University of North Caroline at Pembroke goes on to explain:

In literature, the persona is the narrator, or the storyteller, of a literary work created by the author...the persona is not the author, but the author’s creation--the voice “through which the author speaks.” It could be a character in the work, or a fabricated onlooker, relaying the sequence of events in a narrative.

Merriam-Webster states that dramatic defined means:

...striking in appearance or effect

With this information in mind, it would seem that Gwendolyn Brooks does adopt another persona to look into the thoughts and heart of a woman who has ended the lives of her conceived babies through abortion.

"Dramatic" in this case does not refer to something occurring in a drama or play, but the manner in which the text is delivered: in this case, most definitely with the hope of eliciting a specific effect in the reader—the sorrow and regret of the lives of babies she never brought into this world, the shared moments between mother and child that they never knew, and the opportunities at things both great and small, that each child never knew.

The poem has a tragic and sad mood, especially as the mother in the poem professes that she loved each baby.

There is dramatic persona at the center of this poem, as Gwendolyn Brooks brings to the reader's attention all that is irretrievably lost when a baby is aborted, and how that loss can, in effect, haunt the mother of that lost child.

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