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"Filling Station" By Elizabeth Bishop And "The Jailer" By Sylvia Plath Analysis And Comparison Of Styles

2060 words - 8 pages

1.Elizabeth Bishop - "Filling Station"The poem consists of seven stanzas. Most of them have six or seven verses, except the very last one, which contains only two.The first stanza, with a strong exclamation in the beginning verse, introduces the setting - a small, dirty gas station. There is a clearly visible intention of creating some kind of repulsion through the description, as everything is "dirty" and "oil-soaked" - a good example of Objective Correlative, a device frequently used by Bishop. In the second stanza, a family (a father and his sons) is introduced. They are, too, "oil-soaked" and "dirty". The third stanza states the question: "Do they live in the station?", and tries to answer it (there is a porch behind the pumps, a dog - dirty, of course - is lying on sofa). A further proof of the fact that the family lives there appears in the fourth stanza: there are some comic books lying on the taboret (they provide the frist coloured accent in the poem). As comics are suitable rather for younger children (at least they used to be when the poem was written) and the boys are old enough to help their father at work - they are probably teenagers - it seems that the comic books have been lying there for several years. Then, some accents of femininity appear in the hitherto completely masculine setting: the comics lie on an embroidered doily, next to a large hairy begonia. These are clearly female touches; a male would not embroider a doily with flower patterns, as it is shown in the sixth stanza. The last two stanzas clearly show a presence of a woman: there is "someone" who embroidered the doily, who takes care of the plant (it would be difficult not to love the humorous touch in the line 36 - "oils it, maybe") and who arranged the oil cans. The last verse seems to show quite clearly the presence of maternal love and care.It might be possible that the speaker is a member of the family - it can be deducted from the mysterious "us" in "Somebody loves us all". There are some other traces which can lead to such conclusion: the very beginning of the poem may be perceived as the first thought of someone who is back home after a long time, and sees an unpleasant, "dirty" and "oily" place; the man working at the station is immediately referred to as "father"; the speaker seems to be walking about and examining every detail - the thing an ordinary customer would probably never do - just to gain conviction that in spite of all the dirt and oil, everything is like it should be (it "feels" like home); finally, the title of the poem and the setting suggest a metaphor of home: a "filling station", a place one can come back to after a tiring trip and "fill up" - gain strength before further travel.Therefore, it might appear natural to read the poem as a "charming little appreciation of motherhood", as Robert Dale Parker states it ("Bishop and the Weed of Poetic Invention", Chapter 1 in The Unbeliever: The Poetry of Elizabeth Bishop, University of Illinois...

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