Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 6

TEXTUAL COMMENTARY AND CRITICAL PRACTICE Literary Author Elizabeth Bishop !

Roosters"# It is $o%si&ere& to 'ar( her brea(i%) a*ay +ro' Maria%%e Moore,s i%+lue%$e# Moore -.//01 .2034 *as a Mo&er%ist A'eri$a% poet *ho be$a'e Bishop,s 'e%tor# 5el+1assess'e%t E6er$ises .# Rea& the poe' o%$e throu)h *ithout loo(i%) up a%y *or&s# Liste% *ith the te6t i% +ro%t o+ you payi%) atte%tio% to Bishop,s rea&i%)# 7o* &o her pauses i%to%atio% stresses et$# help us u%&ersta%& *hat !Roosters" is about8 &o%,t +or)et that the title is also part o+ the te6t# The simple stanza form and rhythm of the poem in relationship with the content make the poem sound like a fable or a fairy tale in which the actions carried out by humanised or personified animals have an allegorical and moral meaning. The poem is written in tercets that tend to rhyme together, although there are many instances of tercets in which at least one of the verses does not rhyme with the other lines. The first verse is a two-beat line and the second and third are three-beat lines (stresses are placed before the syllable, which is also underlined) !t "four o"clock in the "gun-metal "blue "dark we "hear the first "crow of the first "cock "#ust be"low the "gun-metal "blue "window and im"mediately there "is an "echo $%& !n e'ample of a tercet that has an irregular rhyme is the following one, the ninth tercet $%& the "many "wives who "lead "hens "lives of "being "courted and de"spised( $%& )ere, *wives* and *lives* do rhyme, but they don"t rhyme with *despised*, that has a final +d+ sound on account of its being a participle that ends in -ed after a verbal root that ends in a voiced sound (+d,spaizd+). 3#9rite a short su''ary -: li%es4 i% E%)lish o+ *hat you thi%( this poe' is about# This is a narrative poem that describes the beginning of a new day, announced by the crowing of the ,roosters- of the title. .y implicit references to cockfighting, the behaviour of the roosters is portrayed in aggressive, warlike terms, with the birds themselves described metaphorically as male, bellicose military officers whose violent behaviour results in the death of one of their group. The ,wives- or hens are portrayed as passive, unintelligent and emotional beings who are domineered and "denied" by the "roosters" or men. !bout two thirds of the way through the poem, the speaker introduces the narrative of /t. 0eter who denied 1hrist three times before the cock crowed. This works like a parable inside the main narrative. The theme of denial of that story in the 2ospels points to male denial as one of the ma#or traits in our still patriarchal society and what the roosters represent symbolically (i.e. what men do to women). This theme is opposed to the alternative idea of forgiveness that should have played a ma#or role in our culture over denial (this is the moral of the parable). The poem then continues to focus on how the morning advances with the sun high in the sky and the cocks are almost silent. The day is referred to in terms of a te't inscribed on a monument and the /un as a reader that follows that te't *to see the end*, thus matching the activity of the reader who reaches the end of .ishop"s poem itself, and pointing to the two possible attitudes

of the reader, hostile or sympathetic, toward the poem depending on the "faith" professed (suggested by *faithful*). Rea& Rya%,s short se$tio% o% !Roosters" -Ch# 0, p# .:;4 a%& the% a%s*er the <uestio%s belo*# Illustrate your a%s*ers *ith &ire$t e6a'ples +ro' the poe'# .#Do you a)ree *ith Rya% that the poe' !o++ers =>? a spe$ta$ular $riti<ue o+ 'ale $ulture +ro' a *o'a%,s perspe$ti@e8" 9hy8 3es, the poem is a criti4ue of male culture and it is certainly spectacular because of its formal comple'ity. 5ale culture is certainly represented as brutal, warlike and treacherous. 6t is a stereotypical portrayal of masculinity that only gives way to a more nuanced (7matizado) portrayal of the masculine by considering what might have been if the patriarchal order had not been so harsh, so keen on denial towards women the rooster image is ultimately linked to the theme of repentance (8gallus canit; / flet Petrus9 $*the cock crows( 0eter weeps*& in stanza :;) and forgiveness (8his dreadful rooster come to mean forgiveness9 in stanza :<), aspects that do not characterize the roosters of the poem nor the way the patriarchal order dealt with women. 6n contrast, a more feminized morning takes over from the harshly masculine dawn in the last five tercets, by far the most apparently cryptic part of the poem. The light (this is really significant) begins to change in the tercet => (8a low light is floating9) and *gild$s& the tiny + floating swallow-s belly + and lines of pink cloud in the sky9 (stanza =;). The latter stanza combines the pink cloud with the ,floating belly- of the minuscule swallow, creating a distinctly feminized image (small, soft, pink) which ?synesthetically marries the visual to the tactile. .ut more importantly, the metaphor of the dawn (*the day"s preamble*) identified as a part of a te't, and the clouds (*$%& lines of pink cloud in the sky*) compared to an ethereal yet simultaneously monumental inscription (*like wandering lines in marble*) suggest that the authority of a discourse, that of the religious monuments in @ome and the patriarchal discourse of 1hristianity may drift away, wane and disappear as clouds eventually do while the semidarkness of the dawn becomes the morning (suggesting that semidarkness, obscurity, and by e'trapolation obscurantism give way to light and enlightenment). The depiction of the personified /un that *climbs in( + following "to see the end,"* is a metapoetic twist -because it is a reference to the very act of reading- that prompts the ; identification of the reader, who also reaches the end of .ishop"s poem, with the /un. Aust as the /un follows to see the end of the day and also the end of those lines in the sky (the 4uotation marks suggesting both the end of a story, how a story ends, and the end of the dominant patriarchal order and discourse), the reader of .ishop"s poem has to consider the stories (that of the roosters in the first part of the frame and the framed story of the rooster and /t. 0eter treated here as a parable) and how she or he reacts to these stories and their morals (they have a moral so, again, they are similar to fairy tales and parables in this respect) now that he or she reaches the end of the poem. The word *faithful* obviously suggests the regularity of the /un appearing on the horizon day after day, but this ad#ective also ac4uires religious connotations that make the word work on a metaphorical level because of the precedent story of /t. 0eter, so it also points to the /un as well as the reader being *faithful* in the sense of having some particular religious beliefs. The fact that *faithful* is followed by *as enemy* and a comma separates *or friend* indicates that the ad#ective only modifies the first noun, not both. The comma also alters the intonation of the sentence 4uite significantly right before the end of the poem. The pause that the comma introduces in the sentence e'presses that the hostile attitude to the ideas e'plained in the poem corresponds to those who have religious ideas, to be precise, those who still hold up very conservative and patriarchal 1hristian principles, whereas the positive, friendly attitude to the moral of the stories of the poem is an alternative stance that has no connection with those very traditional religious principles. !ctually, the pause makes the phrase *of friend* sound like a hint that this is the attitude that is e'pected from the reader the reader is actually e'pected to agree with progressive, feminist ideas. !lso, prompting the identification of the reader with the /un, the source of warmth and light (and all the positive things associated with light including knowledge and civilization, i.e. illumination and enlightenment) points to the e'pectation

that the reader will be an enlightened, open-minded person that will avoid obscurantism and agree with the poem. 1onse4uently, the final line of the poem ends on an apparently ambiguous note, but a close reading of the form of the te't reveals that it aims at making its readers show a positive, friendly response to the ideas of the poem a criti4ue of male culture and the patriarchal order oppressive to women. $650B@T!CT the poem actually appropriates and subverts traditional literary forms characterized by their pedagogical, moralizing and predicatory content (fairy tales, child stories, and 2ospel parables) to teach and preach a new ideology feminism. Dinding the coherence of the poem following the "traditional" Dormalist and Cew 1riticism practices used in close-reading enables us to understand the theme and ideological message of the poem. /ub#ecting this poem to a deconstructive, post-structuralist reading that destabilizes its meaning or looks for inconsistencies in the te't might result in a conservative, retrograde reading, as this te't is far from traditional or conservative.& 3# 9hy a$$or&i%) to Rya% &oes it !be$o'e $lear +airly <ui$(ly A by li%e B at least A that by Croosters, Bishop 'ea%s 'e%8" 9hat )e%&er1spe$i+i$ i%+or'atio% &oes li%e B )i@e8 ,1ock- is a synonym for rooster but it is also a slang word for penis. B#9hat $olours are use& i% asso$iatio% *ith the roosters8 9hat is parti$ularly C'ale, about the'8 (2un-metal) blue, green-gold (medals), (crown of) red, metallic% all these colours are associated with a distinctly masculine hierarchy, military or otherwise (gun-metal, medals, crown). The ,redfurther connotes blood, violence, death. The colours are male by association in the poem since they are linked e'clusively to the hyper-masculine roosters. :#Is there a%y*here i% the poe' *here the +e'i%i%e $halle%)es i% so'e *ay or ta(es o@er +ro' the 'as$uli%e or&er o+ thi%)s8 The roosters have *wives* or hens who initially are *rustling* and *admiring* and then eventually challenge the male birds (stanzas EF and EG)( also, the speaker tells us that 5agdalen-s *sin* is more acceptable than 0eter-s, and this is a challenge to 0eter"s prominence in the history of 1hristianity. .ut it is in the final five stanzas that we find the substantial challenge to the male order as e'plained in E above. ?/ynesthesia the evocation of one sense in terms of another, e.g. a smooth sound, a warm colour. D#Other tha% 'as$uli%ity *hat other !the'ati$ si)%i+i$a%$e" 'i)ht the roosters ha@e8 /ee answer to 4uestion E above. ;#9hat *as !5t# Peter,s si%"8 9hy i% the spea(er,s opi%io% *as it !*orse tha% that o+ Ma)&ale%"8 Dor the speaker, 0eter-s sin is one 8of spirit9 H of denial and treachery. That the speaker considers it worse that 5agdalen-s sin 8of the flesh alone9 suggests an attempt to reclaim women-s bodies a) for women and perhaps also to rescue them b) from patriarchal moral standards. The idea is that, despite his sin, /t. 0eter was the founder of the 1hurch. This suggests that the moral principles of 1hristianity, still reflected in much of our current Iestern culture, are e'clusively male and based on denial (especially as regards to women), whereas, had the 1hurch been influenced by 5ary 5agdalen, these moral principles would have been different, not based on denial and certainly not discriminating against women. 0# O% *hat %ote &oes Peter,s story e%&8 Is it %e)ati@e8 Positi@e8 A'bi)uous8 O% o%e le@el Peter,s story treate& li(e a parable $o%tai%e& *ithi% the +ra'e o+ the story o+ the roosters e%&s i% sta%za B2E !CDe%y &e%y &e%y, F is %ot all the roosters $ry"# I% other *or&s the roosters shoul& %ot only be asso$iate& *ith trea$hery a%& &e%ial# They also e@o(e -as

re@eale& i% the pre$e&i%) sta%zas4 repe%ta%$e a%& +or)i@e%ess# 9ithi% the bo&y o+ the poe' Peter,s story sta%&s i% the 'i&&le o+ a%& pro@i&es a bri&)e bet*ee% the represe%tatio% o+ a star( brutal 'as$uli%ity a%& a s$e%ario i% *hi$h the +e'i%i%e see's to pre@ail throu)h the <uiet pi%( 'or%i%) i% the +i%al se$tio% o+ the poe' the e%& o+ the +ra'e that e%$loses PeterGs story# Peter A a%& by asso$iatio% the roosters A see's to rea$h out to a less Ma%i$hea% -H'a%i<ueIsta4 a%& 'ore positi@e pote%tial 'as$uli%ity# PeterGs story a%& its 'oral 'ust be $o%si&ere& *ithi% its +ra'e espe$ially ho* the +i%al part o+ the +ra'e as e6plai%e& abo@e ai's at the rea&ersG i%terro)ati%) the'sel@es about the i&eas o+ the poe' a%& a$tually e6pe$ts the' to sho* a +a@ourable +rie%&ly attitu&e to the'# I%tro&u$tio% to Criti$al a%& Literary Theory Rea& Barry Chapter ; !Je'i%ist Criti$is'" -pp# ..;1.BB4# .# Citi%) Toril Moi Barry re+ers to the !$ru$ial set o+ &isti%$tio%s" -..04 arou%& *hi$h 'u$h o+ 5e$o%& 9a@e +e'i%is' re@ol@es# 9hat are they8 Use your o*% *or&s# Toril 5oi distinguishes between feminist (8a political position9), female (8a matter of biology9) and feminine (8a set of culturally defined characteristics9). 3# O% pa)e ..0 para)raph B -!Thus i% +e'i%ist $riti$is'>"4 Barry %otes three $ha%)es or a&Kust'e%ts that +e'i%is' u%&er*e%t i% the .2/Ls# Usi%) your o*% *or&s say *hat they *ere# Bne, feminist criticism became more wide-ranging and began to seek inspiration from the conclusions and approaches of other schools of criticism( two, feminist criticism turned away from challenging the male outlook to e'amining instead the female version of reality and recovering vanished or silenced accounts of women-s e'perience( three, focus changed to building a body of women-s writing by revising the history of the novel and poetry to incorporate neglected women authors. B# No* re1rea& !9hat +e'i%ist $riti$s &o" -Barry pp# .3/1.324# Paraphrase his ar)u'e%ts i#e# re1*rite Barry,s poi%ts -so'e o+ the' are @ery shortM4 *ith your o*% *or&s# Ihat feminist critics do E. 1hallenge and re-write the canon, seeking to rediscover women-authored te'ts. ;. @e-assess women-s lives. :. Jook at how women are represented by male and female authors. =. Kuestion constructions of women as ,Bther-, as ,lack-, as being automatically linked to ,nature-. <. 1hallenge hierarchies in writing and real life, seeking to dismantle them, view reading as political practice and e'pose (7 uncover, make manifest) patriarchy. L. !cknowledge that language ,constructs- social reality, making it seem natural or innate. M. !sk whether men and women are essentially (because biologically) different, or whether difference is one more social construct. F. @aise the possibility of criture feminine (a feminine practice of writing) and of whether men can practice criture feminine too. G. 2o back to psychoanalysis to continue e'ploring male and female identity. E>. Jook again at .arthes- ,the death of the author-, a notion which favours ,sub#ect positionsconstructed through words( ask whether experiential sub#ectivity (i.e. se'uality, ethnicity) should be foregrounded instead. EE. 5ake clear that ,impartial- or ,conventional- interpretations of literary te'ts are in fact rooted in ideology. Criti$al Authors

5ANDRA M# NILBERT -b# .2B;4 a%& 5U5AN NUBAR -b# .2::4# Jro' The Madwoman in the Attic. The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination -.2024# Jro' Chapter 3E !I%+e$tio% i% the 5e%te%$eE The 9o'a% 9riter a%& the A%6iety o+ Authorship"# Ihat does it mean to be a woman writer in a culture whose fundamental definitions of literary authority are $%& ?patriarchalN 6f the ve'ed and ve'ing polarities of angel and monster, sweet dumb /now Ihite and fierce mad Kueen, are ma#or images literary tradition offers women, how does such ?imagery influence the ways in which women attempt the penN 6f the Kueen-s looking glass speaks with the Oing-s voice, how do its perpetual kingly admonitions affect the Kueen-s own voiceN Br does she 8talk back9 to him in her own vocabulary, her own timbre, insisting on her viewpointN Ie believe these are basic 4uestions feminist literary criticism H both theoretical and practical H must answer $%&. That writers assimilate and then consciously or unconsciously affirm or deny the achievements of their predecessors is, of course, a central fact of literary history $%&. 6ncreasingly, $%& critics study the ways in which, as A. )illis 5iller has put it, a literary te't 8is inhabited%by a long chain of parasitical presences, echoes, ?allusions, guests, ghosts of previous te'ts9. L $T&he first and foremost student of such literary psychohistory has been )arold .loom. !pplying Dreud $%&, .loom has postulated that the dynamics of literary history arise from the artist-s 8an'iety of influence,9 his fear that he is not his own creator and that the works of his predecessors, e'isting before and beyond him, assume essential priority over his own writings. $%& .loom-s paradigm of the se4uential relationship between literary artists is the relationship of father and son $and& a 8strong poet9 must engage in heroic warfare with his 8precursor,9 for, involved as he is in a literary Bedipal struggle,a man can only become a poet by somehow invalidating his poetic father. $6&f we ac4uiesce in the patriarchal .loomian model, we can be sure that the female poet does not e'perience the 8an'iety of influence9 in the same way that her male counterpart would, for the simple reason that she must confront precursors who are almost e'clusively male, and therefore significantly different from her. Cot only do these precursors incarnate patriarchal authority $%&, they attempt to enclose her in definitions of her person and her potential which, by reducing her to e'treme stereotypes (angel, monster) drastically conflict with her own sense of her self H that is, of her sub#ectivity, her autonomy, her creativity. Bn the one hand, therefore, the woman writer-s male precursors symbolize authority( on the other hand, despite their authority, they fail to define the ways in which she e'periences her own identity as a writer. 5ore, the masculine authority with which they construct their literary ?personae, as well as the fierce power struggles in which they engage in their efforts of self-creation, seem to the woman writer directly to contradict the terms of her own gender definition. Thus the 8an'iety of influence9 that a male poet e'periences is felt by a female poet as an even more primary 8an'iety of authorship9 H a radical fear that she cannot create, that because she can never become 8precursor9 the act of writing will isolate or destroy her. /BP@1Q The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism (;>>E) .# Loo( up a%& )i@e &e+i%itio%s o+ the *or&s 'ar(e& *ith a% O -asteris(4# patriar$halE a&Ke$ti@e *hi$h &es$ribes a syste' o+ 'ale authority *hi$h oppresses *o'e% throu)h its so$ial politi$al a%& e$o%o'i$ i%stitutio%s -Ma))ie 7u' The Dictionary of Feminist Theory# E&i%bur)hE E&i%bur)h U%i@ersity Press 3LLB4# i'a)eryE the terms image and imagery have many connotations and meanings. 6magery as a general term covers the use of language to represent ob#ects, actions, feelings, thoughts, ideas, states of mind and any sensory or e'tra-sensory e'perience. Image does not necessarily mean ,a mental

picture-. allusio%E usually an implicit reference, perhaps to another work of literature or art, to a person or an event. 6t is often a kind of appeal to a reader to share some e'perience with the writer. perso%aeE plural of persona $a Jatin loanword&. 6n literary and critical #argon, persona has come to denote the ,person- (the ,6- of an ,alter ego-) who speaks in a poem or novel or other form of literature. 3# Ni@e rief &e+i%itio%s or e<ui@ale%t ter's +or the +ollo*i%) ter's a%& e6pressio%s# Ta(e i%to a$$ou%t their $o%te6t *ithi% the passa)e# Re'e'ber to $o%sult a )oo& 'o%oli%)ual E%)lish &i$tio%ary i+ %e$essaryE - attempt the pen try to write - kingly admonitions stern advice uttered by a male monarch - paradigm model, e'ample - male counterpart male e4uivalent or complement - stereotypes standardized, simplified and fi'ed conceptions. B# Nilbert a%& Nubar &is$uss 7arol& Bloo',s !a%6iety o+ i%+lue%$e" -para)raph B4# 5u''arise para)raph B *hi$h )i@es us a% e6pla%atio% o+ this ter' -'a6i'u' D li%es4# Dor .loom, 8an'iety of influence9 refers to the (male) writer-s fear that his works are fatally overshadowed H even ,owned- in some way H by those of previous (male) authors. The author can only counter (7contrarrestar, oponerse a) the paternal influence of (male) literary ancestors by aggressively challenging and nullifying them, much as Bedipus ,nullified- his father. 1B55QCT/ Cote how the act of summarizing closely resembles what Rerrida describes as 8the respectful doubling of commentary9 that reading, at one level, performs. ! summary will focus on the surface of a te't, the words themselves, and not 8aim at a certain relationship, unperceived by the writer, between what he commands and what he does not command of the patterns of the language that he uses9 (.arry LG). :# The a&Ke$ti@e Oe&ipal -par# B4 $o'es +ro' the Nree( 'ytholo)i$al $hara$ter Oe&ipus the (i%) o+ Thebes *ho 'arrie& his 'other a%& (ille& his +ather# 9hy &o you thi%( Nilbert a%& Nubar &es$ribe the literary $o%+li$t bet*ee% a 'ale author a%& his pre$ursors as a% Oe&ipal stru))le8 The male author must 8kill his father9 in order to survive and become his own person. 1B55QCT/ .loom-s model is inspired by Dreud-s Oedipus complex. This is what .arry says 8the male infant conceives the desire to eliminate the father and become the se'ual partner of the mother. 5any forms of inter-generational conflict are seen by Dreudians as having Bedipal overtones, such as professional rivalries9. .arry also notes the masculinized pre#udice of the Oedipus complex 8!s the very idea of the Bedipal comple' would suggest, Dreudian theory is often deeply masculinist in bias9 (G:). .loomian theory, too, one might add% D# Challe%)i%) Bloo',s Oe&ipal 'o&el Nilbert a%& Nubar $reate their o*% ter' A !a%6iety o+ authorship"# Re1rea& para)raph : +ro'E !Not o%ly &o these pre$ursors>" to the e%& a%& paraphrase their ar)u'e%ts -'a6i'u' ; li%es4# 6n response to the masculinized version of literary rivalry represented by .loom-s 8an'iety of influence9, 2ilbert and 2ubar propose a feminized 8an'iety of authorship9 which can be summarized thus 5ale literary ancestors are associated with the patriarchal attempt to define the woman author, reducing her sub#ectivity to stereotypes (angel, monster) and her potential to define herself. The male power conflict with a literary precursor does not reflect the female writer-s sense of her own gender (7 gSnero). )er inability to see herself as a (hostile, aggressive, i.e. masculine) precursor, therefore, leads to a fear that she cannot write, that writing will lead to her isolation or annihilation.

Centres d'intérêt liés