Paper 4

Paper 4 - 1 Instructors Colin Dingler Vincent Lloyd...

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Rhetoric R1A, Section 5 December 7, 2007 Paper 4 “The Instruction Manual”: Studying Ashbery’s Work to Determine the Personality of Every Poem Every poet develops an attitude towards their individual style. It is this style that labels poems either “personal” or “impersonal.” In “The Instruction Manual,” John Ashbery uses his power of imagination to guide the reader from the mundane working world through a city of his wishes, “Of dim Guadalajara! City of rose-colored flowers!” (line 8). His excessive use of emotion and imagery follows the introduction, into the content of the poem. It is far from being a universal experience, but a personal one. After examining the style and content, and how they complement each other, the reader can conclude that Ashbery’s “The Instruction Manual” is personal. However, he may have not meant to be “personal” at all. In order to conclude that Ashbery did not mean to create a “personal” poem we must understand the concept of dream versus reality. “And, as my way is, I being to dream…” shows that the entire middle body of the poem is only the narrator’s dream (line 6). It is brought to us without even leaving the workplace. Only at the very end does the narrator realize that the dream is over: reality is waiting after all. This is shown by this quote, “…I turn my gaze Back to the instruction manual which has made me dream of Guadalajara” (line 73-74). This shows how one subject leads the narrator to the next. Dreams are supposedly controlled by unconscious minds and desires. Therefore, can we conclude that the majority of the poem is from Ashbery’s unconsciousness or is it a deliberate act? 1
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This note was uploaded on 09/10/2008 for the course R 1A taught by Professor Mascuch during the Fall '07 term at Berkeley.

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Paper 4 - 1 Instructors Colin Dingler Vincent Lloyd...

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