Event Service Analysis
February 28, 2013
Social barriers are created among different groups of people and are seen throughout the poems by Dunbar and Cullen and also Shelley’s novel Frankenstein. In the two poems, the social barriers arise from different groups of people. Both poems use parallelism to compare the two ideas and the different groups represented. All three works use imagery to portray the isolation caused by the barrier. In order to take down the barrier, equality and understand must be met.
According to Michael Meyer’s Poetry, an epigram is “a brief, pointed, and witty poem. Although most rhyme and often are written in couplets, epigrams take no prescribed form. Instead, they are typically polished bits of compressed irony, satire, or paradox” (252). Paul Laurence Dunbar’s epigram “Theology” is an example of an epigram that is satirical. This epigram is six lines long and has no form. In these six lines there are many comments on society and humanity and the barrier built between oppressors and slaves. The satire in this poem is targeted at the social boundaries that Dunbar faced during his lifetime. An example of the satire seen in his epigram is in lines four to six “There is a hell, I’m quite as sure; for pray, If there were not, Where would my neighbors go?” In these three lines he is suggesting that his neighbors all go to hell. These lines could refer to the oppression his family underwent as they fought for their freedom. Dunbar is commenting on the social boundaries by suggesting that the oppressors would suffer in hell for the pain that they imposed up slaves. The title “Theology” ties the aspect of “heaven” and “hell” together in the epigram. Heaven and Hell are also separated barriers because the good go to heaven and the bad go to hell. An earthly barrier separates the good and bad, similar to the societal expectations that separate the slaves from their oppressors.
In Countee Cullen’s poem “Tableau” social barriers are exemplified through the image of the first two lines “locked arm in arm they cross the way, the black boy and the white.” This is an example of a social barrier because of the reaction of the “folk” in the second quatrain: “the fair folk talk, indignant that these two should dare in unison to walk.” This quote expressed how the “fair folk” are looking upon the two boys walking. By using diction with strong negative connotation such as “indignant” and “dare” the readers can assume that the white folk are unhappy that the white boy and the black boy are together. The “fair folk’s” displeasure with the sight of the two boys creates a social barrier between white and black people. This social barrier is similar to the social barriers illustrated in Dunbar’s epigram because there is an obstruction preventing both groups of people from interacting. In the last lines of the poem there is another image that is created by opposing forces. “Oblivious to the look and word they pass, and see no wonder that lightning brilliant as a sword should blaze the path of thunder” this quote suggests that the boys are “oblivious” to the reactions and words being spoken against them. This last quatrain encourages equality. It encourages equality by stating that the “lightening brilliant as a sword should blaze the path of thunder.” These last lines encourage equality because equality and hatred can be seen as a parallelism to the lightening and the thunder. By expressing acts of equality the love will trump the hatred, just as lightening “blazes the path of thunder.”
In Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein social boundaries are created between Dr. Frankenstein and the wretch. For two years he had worked tirelessly to create humanity out of and inanimate object. When he finally finished his experiment and achieved his goal he was so unhappy and disgusted with himself that he banished the wretch. “I felt the bitterness of disappointment; dreams that had been my food and pleasant rest for so long a space were now become a hell to me; and the change was so rapid, the overthrow was complete!” (36) This quote shows how Dr. Frankenstein is unhappy, his unhappiness creates a barrier between him and his creation. The barrier is formed when Dr. Frankenstein does not provide human emotion and expression towards the wretch, causing him to become detached from others and society. Being detached from others causes society to look upon the wretch with dismay and judgment. This in turn isolates the wretch and haunts Dr. Frankenstein.
In the works of Dunbar, Cullen, and Shelley there are social barriers placed between groups of people and individuals. The creation of barriers stem from the ignorance, judgment, and hatred of others. In order to break down such barriers, one must look beyond what is on the surface and delve deeper to create equality among others.