What is an analysis of the poem "Hope" by Ariel Dorfman?

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There are a few different techniques to analyzing poetry, and the interpretation differs from person to person. What you perceive the poem to mean and the way it affects you could be entirely different from the person sitting next to you, and that's okay. Poetry is a fluid style of writing that can often be interpreted in multiple ways using the same techniques. To analyze "Hope" by Ariel Dorfman, consider one of the following:

Look at the poem line by line. Dorfman has very unique line breaks in this piece, turning sentences into choppy (or punchy) lines that each create their own effect. If you start your interpretation line by line, you can begin to imagine and piece together the feelings of the writer and the weight each of the words evokes.

Try sentence by sentence. One line isn't always a complete sentence, and that's a style of line breaks that most poets use in their works. Dorfman's sentences, specifically, extend across multiple lines and sometimes entire stanzas. The last stanza, for example, is the end of the sentence that started in the previous stanza. If you analyze this way, you can create entire meanings from each sentence and understand what Dorfman was trying to communicate in full thoughts.

Or, try stanza by stanza. Because the stanzas often aren't full thoughts in Dorfman's piece, it could be interesting to see how your analysis turns out if you interpret each stanza individually instead of looking for complete thoughts. You may find you get an entirely different result than if you tried to piece together full sentences.

These three techniques work fine on their own (and there are, of course, other ways to analyze a poem), but poetry analysis often consists of a combination. Many people will look at how the line breaks affect the stanza's overall meaning and go more in depth on the poem. Take, for example, the following stanzas, lines, and sentence:

After the car left,
the car with no license plate,
we couldn't

find out

anything else
about him.

This single sentence spans across three stanzas, and Dorfman's choice to leave the words "find out" on not only their own line, but their own stanza, can create a churning effect in your stomach. It makes the phrase stand out, makes it punchy. An answer to why he may have done this could be that he wanted the narrator to seem like they're speaking in exasperated breaths. Maybe they're crying or panicking.

Try using a combination of the techniques and the example above to analyze the entire poem. It's okay if the meanings you come up with are different from others, because everyone interprets poetry in different ways.

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