What are some themes and literary devices present in the poem "Barbie Doll" by Marge Piercy?
The poem "Barbie Doll" was written by the contemporary Jewish-American writer Marge Piercy. It reflects many of the common themes of her work, including feminism, social protest, and Jewish identity.
The girl in the poem is being brought up inside the conventions of WASP (white Anglo-Saxon Protestant) society. She is given a Barbie doll, which symbolizes the ideal to which she is expected to conform. As many feminists have pointed out, the Barbie has completely unrealistic proportions, to a degree where its influence has been thought to have a negative effect on girls' body images.
Even though the girl is athletic and smart, she is criticized for being unable to fit the classic WASP ideal; instead she has a large nose and thick, sturdy legs. Using the literary devices of ekphrasis and hyperbole, the poet imagines that the girl could only satisfy social expectations by chopping off her nose and legs and lying dead, like a doll, in a coffin with idealized plastic body parts.
Although the poem is written in free verse, it does use line breaks to create poetic rhythm and some repetition.