Image of Women in ‘Sonnet in Primary Colors’ and ‘Girl Powdering Her Neck’

Date: Sep 27, 2020
Category: Informative

Introduction

The image of women remains an interesting subject for the depiction in literature. ‘Sonnet in Primary Colors’ written by Rita Dove is the poem of admiration with a personality of the woman who mourns the death of her beloved. It is evident that ‘Sonnet in Primary Colors’ is elevated and tragic at the same time. ‘Girl Powdering Her Neck’ written by Kitagawa Utamaro is based on a picture of the woman who meditates about life hiding their status of geisha. Moreover, this poem pays attention to the nature of human beauty and appearance. It is evident that one can underline the similarities and differences between them. Consequently, the similarities between both poems refer to the topic of the image of women, reliance on the picture, and realistic characters. The differences between poems include the form, choice of stylistic devices, and the ways of presentation of the image of the woman. 

 

The Similarities between ‘Sonnet in Primary Colors’ and ‘Girl Powdering Her Neck’

The similarities between both poems are pronounced, and they should be analyzed to understand how both authors see the personality and character of woman. First, in the poem ‘Sonnet in Primary Colors’, Rita Doves expresses her admiration of woman who can be strong when she undergoes the loss of her loving man: ‘This is for the woman with one black wing’.  In the poem ‘Girl Powdering Her Neck’ the readers deal with the same subject of admiration addressing to female beauty and appearance: ‘Her hair is black with hints of red’. It is evident that both authors are impressed with the woman and her ability to remain always attractive and seductive despite grief, everyday routine and social status in the community. 

Another common feature between ‘Sonnet in Primary Colors’ and ‘Girl Powdering Her Neck’ is reliance on pictures. Both sonnets are accompanied by paintings that make them more artistic and expressive. However, the picture of ‘Sonnet in Primary Colors’ is a self-portrait where the woman sees herself brave, courageous, and confident: ‘…wildflowers entwining the plaster corset her spine resides in…’The picture of the woman from ‘Girl Powdering Her Neck’ was created by the famous painter Utamaro who is objective describing the beauty of the character: ‘The eye narrow in a moment of self-scrutiny. The mouth parts as if desiring to disturb’. One should mention that both pictures coincide with the meaning of the poems, and every word reinforces the single element of the painting. 

The similarity between ‘Sonnet in Primary Colors’ and ‘Girl Powdering Her Neck’ refers to the depiction of the realistic characters. The key personality of ‘Sonnet in Primary Colors’ is Frida, who is a Mexican painter who remains attractive and female even in the moments of grief. The main character of ‘Girl Powdering Her Neck’ is the Japanese girl who manages to take care of her beauty and appearance in the everyday routine. Not without reason, both authors admire with their characters as it is difficult to remain always female, seductive, and attractive. Consequently, the descriptions of both ladies are associated with such notions as bravery, courage, confidence, and determinacy. They know how to remain in the center of attention and admiration. The tone of both poems is of strong admiration. The author demonstrates respect for Frida and her physical and emotional pain. In the poem ‘Girl Powdering Her Neck’, there is no condemn and judgment of geisha’s behavior. Consequently, the poet feels sympathy for her sad and melancholic life. Such position of narrators in both works proves that every woman is worth of admiration and appreciation in spite her life issues and emotional sufferings. 

The Differences between ‘Sonnet in Primary Colors’ and ‘Girl Powdering Her Neck’

The differences between poems refer to the form and genre. ‘Sonnet in Primary Colors’ is a sonnet that consists of fourteen lines. The author indicates directly that this poem is a sonnet. In ‘Sonnet in Primary Colors’, the author uses many dashes to emphasize the key idea and silence that helps to reinforce grief and sadness. Moreover, these dashes create more intimate atmosphere and give the time to the reader to reflect and meditate: ‘…who painted herself a present – wildflowers entwining the plaster corset her spine resides in, that flaming pillar – ’. ‘Girl Powdering Her Neck’ is a lyrical poem. In this poem, the author uses short lines that make it easy for comprehension: ‘The light is the inside sheen of an oyster shell, sponged with talc and vapor, moisture from a bath’. Moreover, it is a free-verse dividing into seven stanzas that make it more rhythmic and melodic. 

Another difference between poems refers to the choice of stylistic devices. In ‘Sonnet in Primary Colors’, the author uses alliteration: ‘Who painted herself a present’. Alliteration helps to create musicality. Moreover, such metaphors ‘one black wing’, ‘in pain and rose’ prove that the main character is in grief, but she struggles with her sadness and depression as she is brave. Furthermore, such visual images as ‘parrot’ and ‘flower’ serve the way of reinforcing woman’s beauty. It is evident that the author wants to underline that woman can be beautiful even in the state of grief. The poem ‘Girl Powdering Her Neck’ has many metaphorical epithets like ‘the berry-stained lips’, ‘the placid plum face’ that emphasize reader’s attention on woman’s beauty. Moreover, the figure of two chrysanthemums is the metaphorical depiction of the entertaining and frivolous role of geisha and sad and melancholic silent personal world. 

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Another difference between two poems is evident in the way of the presentation of the image of woman. Both women are brave and strong. However, they are similarly unhappy. The author of ‘Sonnet in Primary Colors’ depicts that the character is sad and in grief directly. In the poem ‘Girl Powdering Her Neck’, the picture of the sad and melancholic image of a woman is hidden behind the bright and attractive beauty. It means that the key idea here is that every woman is a good actress and manages to decorate her life with the details that make others think that she is happy. In the poem ‘Sonnet in Primary Colors’, flowers and parrot are personified to distract from woman’s grief. In the poem ‘Girl Powdering Her Neck’, the author emphasizes attention on the procedures of taking care of appearance to distract the readers from the social role of a woman who was a prostitute. 

Conclusion

In conclusion, one should say that the poems ‘Sonnet in Primary Colors’ and ‘Girl Powdering Her Neck’ have many common features that include the topic of the image of women, reliance on the picture, and realistic characters. These similarities prove that the personality of the woman is diverse, full of dilemmas and challenges. However, both authors put in the center of their admiration and appreciation the real images and their portraits that prove that beauty and appearance of women are the ways of hiding their physical and emotional pain and sufferings. The differences in the poems ‘Sonnet in Primary Colors’ and ‘Girl Powdering Her Neck’ are also obvious and refer to the form, choice of stylistic devices, and the ways of presentation of the image of the woman. These differences prove that woman is so complicated and diverse subject that can be depicted from many perspectives.