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“Barbie Doll” is one of Piercy’s 1973 collections. The poem “Barbie Doll” is a fairy-tale narrative poem that idealizes image of the woman body. Barbie Doll is a young girls’ toy that is popular. The original Barbie toy was tall, shapely, with blue eyes and a blonde hair. It is a feminist poem which has the theme of growth. It illustrates puberty as a time when the young woman’s body changes fast. Piercy ironically uses the term “magic of puberty” to refer to the pain that accompanies puberty.  The poet criticizes the stereotypes associated with the feminine behavior. The poem suggests how women are subjected to a lot of social pressures to make them conform to certain ways of behaving and looking. The poet illustrates how such conformity is destructive since it lowers a woman’s self esteem, confidence and self image.

“The Leap” is one of James Dickey’s poems. The speaker is a young man who is telling of a woman he knew while in school. The speaker could also be James himself. The woman he is talking about was a beautiful girl who grew to be a lovely woman. While in school, he once danced with her and realized she had grown up. Many years later, as an adult, the speaker reads from a paper of the woman committing suicide. The woman died after leaping out of a window in a downtown hotel. The speaker is saddened by the news of the woman since he recalls her as a young girl.

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This essay will focus on comparing and contrasting “Barbie Doll” and “The Leap” poems but the emphasis will be on contrasting.

The poem “Barbie Doll” and “The Leap” have different speakers. The speaker in “Barbie Doll” is the observer, who is watching the girl in the poem as she experiences struggles related to her body image. The speaker could also be poet, Marge Piercy, who is telling the story of a young girl who faces problems associated with body image. The speaker in “The Leap” poem is a man who flashes back on his school days. As he thinks back, he sees the images of his classmates which include the image of Jane MacNaughton.

The two poems have different situations and settings. In the “Barbie Doll,” the situation is portrayed as a young girl’s childhood. When the girl reaches puberty she experiences the hardships faced by teenage girls. Such hardships include menstruation and a changing body. The girl goes through hardships of trying to be accepted by other people. The girl tries as much as she can to be accepted but in vain. The poem “Barbie Doll” has no specific setting since it takes place in different stages of the girl’s life.  In “The Leap” poem the situation is portrayed as the life a man who is thinking about his past life when he was a young boy while in school. The man sees Jane whose actions portray exuberance, confidence and vitality.

The two poems have different symbols. In the poem “Barbie Doll” the speaker uses the term “Barbie” to symbolize the society’s view of what a perfect woman should look like. The features used to describe the doll: ‘a girl with putty nose dressed in white and pinkie nightie’ symbolize what a girl is expected to be. The putty nose is a symbol of a perfect nose of which it is unrealistic to have such a nose. The white and pink clothes that are worn by the doll are a symbol of femininity and purity. These are some of the symbols in the poem which are a representative of a society with a need of women to be perfect.  In the poem “The Leap,” the speaker uses the term ‘Leap’ to identify the various emotions of the speaker’s voice.

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Both poems are narrative. The poems are narrative since they are telling a story. In “Barbie Doll” poem, the speaker tells of a story about how society can destruct a young girl. The structure of “Barbie Doll” tells a story from beginning to the end in a narrative way. The poem “The Leap” is also told in a narrative way. The speaker begins by thinking of Jane as a young girl and ends when Jane leaps from a window of a downtown hotel.  Both poems have images of death and dying. James Dickey used images of death and dying in the poem “The Leap.”

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