Sunday, February 2, 2014

This is a photograph of me: Critical Appreciation



- Abhilash Kumar (1215301)

The poet uses a photograph to represent the oppression and marginalisation of woman in patriarchal society. The atmosphere within the photograph is a very gloomy one and is indicative of the hopelessness of women under male domination. The photograph is symbolic of the patriarchal society while the speaker represents the whole womanhood. The poet has also utilized several aspects of nature observed in the photograph to symbolize the imposing nature of patriarchy. She uses foggy imagery like “smeared print”, “grey flecks” etc to throw light on the complexity and obscurity of woman’s identity in the oppressive society.

From a higher level, the photograph is symbolic of the history of the woman. The passive voice presentation of the picture clearly indicates this. Just as blurred lines and grey flecks blend on the very fabric of the paper of the photograph, the future of womanhood is obscured in total vagueness. The blurred lines also indicate the vagueness in precision and accuracy of the account on the woman. Since the history of the woman is entirely scripted by the patriarchy, the poet realizes that the whole account is borne with inaccuracies and is pointing out this fallacy through the use of blurred lines. The dim light in the photograph is indicative of the inaccuracy of the patriarchal account on the woman’s creativity. Whatever work the woman does for the society, no matter how important it is, is entirely overshadowed by the society itself. Patriarchy ignores the contribution of the woman. The poem is devoid of any sort of a rhyme scheme which in itself is a sort of a literary device serving the purpose of the sorrow of womanhood. It indicates the extent of derailment of woman off the fundamental means of happiness and peace of mind. Moreover, each object indicated in the photograph is a metaphor for aspects of misogyny. The poet is forced to act within this limited framework restricted by misogyny – she is oppressed to such an extent that she feels insignificant and insecure. Her actions are constantly censored by the society - she is not allowed to rise above the surface. In fact, the poet’s decision to not use a rhyme scheme may be symbolic of this restriction. The poet’s choice of raising the gender issue through a photograph is so because visual representation is the most effective means of evoking feelings within the observer – the most efficient way of arousing sympathy.

The poet also gives directions to the reader to visualize the photograph. This may be to rail the reader’s thought process to that of the poet so as to convey the message more clearly than an arbitrary interpretation. In a way, she welcomes multiple interpretations but she doesn’t allow the original message to be overshadowed by them. She paints the insignificance of woman in the background of the photograph – the low hills, indicative of the constant struggle she has to undergo, yet seldom considered by the society. This is indicated by the prominence of the lake before the hills. The poet further emphasizes on this insignificance through the use of parentheses. One uses parentheses to enclose information that may not be significant to the reader but may be additional information. The poet does this to indicate the insignificance of her existence in the whole picture taken by the society. The poet is half-expectant of the reader to take note of her feelings as she feels it is useless expressing herself to the society. The lake may be yet another metaphor for the society. She mentions that she is in the lake, in the centre of the picture, just under the surface. It might be indicative of the irony of her position as an activist. She might be hinting that she is an activist (her occupation in the centre of the picture may be indicative of this) but the society does not glorify her actions. She is invisible at a glance as if she is wiped off the face of the picture but she tells the reader that she is actually in the picture – just under the surface. Just as the effect of light on water is a distortion, she says that it is difficult to say how large or small she is as she is one in a million – a speck amidst a vast collective consciousness. Yet the poet ends on a hopeful note that if one looks long enough, eventually she would be visible. She might be indicating that there will come a time when all her struggles - meaning the common struggle of all women – would become meaningful when the society itself would stumble upon such an era as everything is transient and nothing is ever perpetual - even the society changes.

6 comments:

Bingo said...

WELL WRITTEN!

Bingo said...

WELL WRITTEN!

nileena nandakumaran said...

. Never knew the multiple meanings behind many things mentioned in the poems..yeah well written

Dinesh Lourembam said...
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Dinesh Lourembam said...
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Dinesh Lourembam said...

Good job buddy...