Thursday, January 28, 2010

Swift as Satirist in "The Lady's Dressing Room"

To begin, it seems clear that there at least a couple of different approaches we can take while analyzing "The Lady's Dressing Room." Daniela worded one perspective well when she wrote, "Swift uses the materiality of this culture to alienate women from men, in this case Strephon from Celia like kids in kindergarten going through the cootie stage." I think it is clear that Swift is suggesting there is a discrepancy between the way men of the time period wished (and expected) to see women, and the way women actually were behind closed doors. Swift asserts that once the lavish trappings of women's makeup and clothing are stripped away, what is left is both shocking and revolting (at least to Strephon). What is interesting to me about the poem's implication here is that Swift seems to claim women are actually the ones at fault for the mix up. Celia, and by extension all women, is portrayed as deceitful for trying to hide her ugliness. If Swift actually believed that, we could certainly accuse him of being a sexist.

In my opinion, however, I tend to side with Nathaniel that Swift is assuming the role of a satirist, and that the poem is "better read as a feminist rebuttal to the constraints society places upon women." Even as the poem is outwardly criticizing the perceived ugliness and deception of women, Swift is covertly taking a stab at men for requiring women to undergo the sham in the first place.

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