What are some good critical perspectives that can help analyse Piercy's "Barbie Doll?"

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I don't think that you get far in the literary criticism of this poem without focusing on feminist thought.  Indeed, the feminist critical perspective is one of the most overwhelming in assessing the value and ideas of Piercy's poem.  Given how she wrote it in the early 1970s, this makes sense.  The 1970s was a point where the feminist movement was gaining traction in American society and took to social forms of protest in making its case.  Piercy's poem is a reflection of this and literary criticism reflects this reality.  At the same time, I think it would be interesting to take a psychoanalytic point of view to the poem, as well.  While there is a resounding social call for change present in the poem, it might be very interesting in order to gain greater insight into the analysis of the poem if one sought to discuss it from the personal point of view.  Piercy does this in her own writings, when she assesses the impact that the 1950s vision of women held upon individuals at the time.  Using psychological insight in order to understand the impact that patriarchy has on women can help avoid such traps in the future, but also gain greater understanding to the poem, itself.

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