Satire is a literary form involving irony, exaggeration, humor, ridicule, and parody to uncover individuals’ follies, shortcomings, vices, or stupidity and initiate change, especially in social settings. In her poem, Barbie Doll, Marge Piercy adopts various forms of satire to criticize behavior that girls depict at a tender age, ending up harming them. This essay describes how the poet has adopted satire to pass her powerful message.
The main idea the author is passing across is the implication of societal misconceptions about women’s roles and how women should look, although this should not be the case. In her first line, the poet suggests that the girl was born as usual but presented with a doll that altered her perception of beauty. The second stanza suggests that the girl grew up healthy and intelligent, with a strong arm and back (Piercy 1). However, what other people saw was her big nose and legs. As a result, “she cut them off and offered them up.”
The satirical lines are largely presented in the final stanza, where the poet notes that the girl later laid in her casket with her cosmetics painted on. Everyone passing by the casket noted, “Doesn’t she look pretty and this was her consummation at last.” Surprisingly, this is every woman’s happy ending, which is significantly ironic. In the modern world, women go through extreme measures to alter their bodies and change the way they look. Unfortunately, not all of them experience the intended positive outcomes. Most women confront severe injuries leading to death, but the idea is deeply entrenched in their minds from childhood.
Using her satirical approach, the author shared a deeper meaning of a detrimental concept due to enforced societal values. However, the intended audience can learn that beauty comes from within and is shaped by life’s experiences. Therefore, it is unreasonable to take drastic measures to appease society when people have an entire life ahead of them to live. The poem’s author successfully applied satire to criticize women’s demeaning behavior.
Piercy, Marge. Barbie Doll. Red Mountain Tribe, Incorporated, 1971.