essay #4 - Dylan Douglas Prof Williams Literary Study...

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Unformatted text preview: Dylan Douglas Prof. Williams Literary Study: Poetry 12/07/08 A Conflict in the American Lifestyle In Howard Nemerov’s poem, “A Way of Life,” the lifestyle of the speaker acts to reveal a greater claim about American culture as a whole: that the images projected by television negatively influence the lives of it’s viewers. The series of commercials and television shows that the speaker briefly and compactly discusses in each of the poem’s five stanzas are intended to reveal the unhealthy standard of morals and lessons that television encourages in the people whose time it occupies. It accomplishes this through the presence of carefully selected metaphors seen in each of the described television features. The free-verse structure and various literary devices that the author utilizes operate together to create the effect of resembling the structure of television. From the beginning to end, themes of conflict and sexuality resonate in each line of the poem. The speaker perceives this conflict as if it was occurring to him in his own experiences and the violence and cruelty that he sees turns into fear. This fear is what causes him to assert his masculinity and through his abnormal behavior there is an implication of the mindless acceptance and influence that television has in his daily life. It is this obedience to the trends that are set out that discourages him from leaving his home. The sexually stimulating and suggestive images that he sees are also a commentary on societal standards of masculinity through the overall nature of television. The intended message is that television alone creates an allusion of ideal standards for American culture to follow, but that do not necessarily deliver the happiness or satisfaction portrayed. Beginning with the first of the five octave stanzas, the way in which the speaker has been desensitized to violence is represented. This is explained through his response of feeling “normal rather than sad” at the image of a man hitting another man in the face with the flat side of an ax (Nemerov, 7). This is the effect that viewing such unrealistic portrayals of people hurting each other has after such a long time. It promotes carelessness and sometimes amusement about such material in which case not only the quality of television is degraded but the mentality of the viewer is as well. The speaker’s masculinity is subtly characterized through this response as well being that a female viewer would be less likely to find such violence entertaining or even acceptable. This stanza’s structure and the four that follow create an allusion of the structure of the average television show and commercial through the author’s extensive use of enjambment. This essentially makes use of television’s own method of captivating its viewer and in turn more effectively exposes the topic. The form of free verse that this poem is written in also accurately describes the responsive thoughts of the speaker as he is bombarded with commercial after commercial and show after show. The speaker’s is bombarded with commercial after commercial and show after show....
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This note was uploaded on 09/05/2011 for the course ENGISH 350:219 taught by Professor Williams,carolyn during the Spring '11 term at Rutgers.

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essay #4 - Dylan Douglas Prof Williams Literary Study...

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