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Analysis and comments on The Satin Dress by Dorothy Parker

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Comment 4 of 39, added on March 10th, 2005 at 7:10 PM.

I think that satin was used to cover bodies at the time. When you read a
Dorthy Parker poem, just remember that she loves giving the endings of her
poems a twist. In this poem, she extoles the values of satin, that while
wool is for misers, and linen for nuns, that satin is really great, for the
wise and the bold. She then ends saying that people who see her in it will
say "What a fine shroud!" for this was what satin was used for. She pokes
fun at romantism as only a true skeptic could.

Jay Orin from United States
Comment 3 of 39, added on October 16th, 2004 at 5:04 AM.

Declan states in her commentary that there seems to be some class
discrimination throughout the poem, which I agree with. Not only is class
discrimination apparent, but I also get a sense of gender-inequality
issues. Kate Garber says that Parker is "a woman through and through". From
what I've read about Parker, this is entirely true. However, I don't agree
with a few of Garber's ideas.

In my opinion, the last stanza is most likely not referring to death.
Though "shroud" does mean "burial garment", I think it is meant as a symbol
meaning "dress", just a piece of clothing worth little, but significant of
so much more.

Another aspect is the main point of the poem. It may not be necessarily
clothing; that's just a generic way of speaking to describe the norms
imposed on women of the time. Parker was an influential woman writer who
didn't edit her opinions through writing, even after being fired from her
job with Vanity Fair. I truly admire a writer who refuses to change her
writing only to better suit other people's comfort zones. Parker can also
be described as a feminist, who recognized her valuable role as a woman and
remained strong through difficult circumstances in her life. In the first
stanza of the poem, she asks, "Where's the man could ease a heart like a
satin gown?" and continues in the second stanza to speak metaphorically,
portraying her ideal man. To her, that would be a man to "crawl round [her]
cunning seams", which would be the exact opposite of male tendencies during
her male-dominated era.

Throughout the poem, Parker stresses that satin is for the free, the bold,
the wise, the proud. Sounds like the start of a women's rights movement if
I ever heard one. Her confidence, though it may very well include it, is
not limited to sexual confidence. It's the confidence of someone with her
own ideas, who deserves respect for expressing them. To me, Parker was not
a "reckless, sexual" creature, but someone who possessed a certain freedom
that comes with her powerful nature, the greatest example of this being the
power to touch others with her words.

Danica from Canada
Comment 2 of 39, added on September 26th, 2004 at 12:15 AM.

I would guess that in your school-life you've been through some of those
torture/harmful english classes that make you think that there's a social
meaning behind every word in every poem. From my reading of Dorothy
Parker, I would advise that you don't read into it so much in that sense.
I think that Dorothy is a woman through and through, and therefore knows
that certain pieces/styles of clothing have the power to make a woman more
confident. It is an undeniable truth that a woman becomes what she feels
her clothing "says" in this mysterious sort of "personal fahsion-intuition"
that we have. Satin, to her, is the material that will give her a sexual
confidence -- and so she wants this dress to be finished and perfect -- to
have her "perfect" night on the town. But in the last lines, it comes out
that she knows that this lifestyle is going to be the end of her.
So, the many other pieces of clothing are presented with negative
connotations - they would only give her a lifestyle that would bore her to
death - but those who live those lives survive in the end. She sees that
this one she has chosen is the only lifestyle (the lifestyle exemplified by
the satin dress representing her reckless sexuality, etc) that excites her
- but realizes that, hey, it's going to kill her in the end (whether that
becomes a metaphorical/spiritual death, or a physical death from the
recklessness).
So I conclude saying that Parker is a very down-to-earth poet who talks
about the basics of life (love and death) without much mystery or obscure
social commentary: just clever, ironic descriptions of her experiences in
life (which have been for her a compilation of ecstacy, depression, and
irony).

Kate Garber from United States
Comment 1 of 39, added on September 14th, 2004 at 7:42 PM.

Hey there my name is Declan, im at university studying design, and my
current assignment is to turn Dorothy Parkers poam THE SATIN DRESS into a
theatre production. I need some help trying to find out what the poam is
about, i.e hidden meanings, if any, subtle hints and indoendos.

To me this poam seams like its setting is in the 1800's theres a bit of
class discrimination through it. I think its coming from a third
perspective. The detail in the poam towards the dress to me indicates
thats its possibly a courset with a puffy satin dress, prehaps victorian
times. She also states the clothing for different types of classes where.
She gives a rich feeling to satin, as if it gives you high status. The last
paragraph of the poam speaks as if the on- lookers in the poam are
admiring, or wish for them to admire there status.

Read the poam its on the net just do google search Dorothy Parker The Satin
Dress. feel free to email me at doubledecky@hotmail.com if you have any
thoughts on the poam. thanks alot for reading, sorry about my shit
spelling!

Declan

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Information about The Satin Dress

Poet: Dorothy Parker
Poem: 12. The Satin Dress
Volume: Enough Rope
Year: 1926
Added: Feb 3 2004
Viewed: 10204 times
Poem of the Day: Sep 27 2002


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