"For the Record": Images Creating a Theme.

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 “For the Record”:

Images Creating a Theme

        Figurative language can be used in poetry to communicate a specific theme. In “For the Record”, poet Adrienne Rich arranges a variety of metaphors to organize the poem and enhance its meaning. She expresses a clear statement through personification, controlling and extended metaphors, and the structure of this figurative language. Rich discusses the relationship between mankind’s suffering and his environment, declaring men and women solely responsible for the destruction of themselves and each other. It is their political corruption, neglect, and unjust actions that cause pain and devastation to people and the world around them. The blame of this created war is taken away from the natural and constructed environment.

Reverse & Basic Personification

        The poet takes the metaphor concept of personification and uses it in two opposite ways. Elements of nature and the environment are attributed human qualities throughout the poem. For example, the second stanza reads, “If here or there a house… poisoned those who lived there with slow fumes over years” (Rich, lines 7-10). The vehicle of a house literally poisoning its inhabitants is a metaphor because it is clearly impossible. A house can not poison someone. The tenor suggests that a house is being filled with toxic fumes, possibly carbon monoxide, for whatever reason, and the people who live in the house are being poisoned. The term fume can also be defined as a state of resentment or vexation, which suggests that the residents of the house are unhappy living there (“fume”).

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        The more common method of personification in the poem is a type of reverse personification, or the poet stating that abstract elements are incapable of human actions and unworthy of human characteristics. The bulk of the poem consists of these statements, for example the first two lines read, “The clouds and the stars didn’t wage this war – the brooks gave no information” (Rich, 1-2). This vehicle of elements of nature not performing human actions suggest the tenor that clouds and brooks are merely natural phenomenon. They can not declare war or share secrets. Again, Rich writes, “the freeways burned, but ...

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