Stevie Smith And Marriage Essay

1513 words - 6 pages

Stevie Smith and Marriage


Stevie and Marriage: Preface
Florence "Stevie" Smith grew up in unstable family conditions. Her family was falling apart, and she observed every moment with hushed censure. These repressed feelings can be seen in her poetry. Her unfortunate childhood experiences attribute to a mistrustful, cynical tone in her poem "Marriage I Think."
For sources I have consulted three separate levels of libraries. At the high school library I found a series called Critical Survey Of Poetry that has been most helpful in providing background information on Smith, as well as critical reviews of some of her poems. The Shippensburg Public Library as well as the Bosler Library has provided a collection of Smith's later poems (of which I chose my focus poem) called Me Again, as well as The Norton Anthology Of Literature By Women that has helped with finding out about Smith's childhood and other biographical information. The Dickinson College Library has been most helpful. There I checked out Stevie Smith, In Search of Stevie Smith, and Stevie, all of which contain vast amounts of research into her childhood and younger years as related to her later poems, thus providing a wealth of both criticism and biographical information. I have also consulted numerous websites to look for her poems and other information, but with very little success.
I have two main sections to my paper, excluding my introduction and conclusion. The first section contains information about Smith's view of the institution of marriage. This section provides evidence from the focus poem, Smith's friends, as well as her own life. The second section of my paper contains information regarding the way in which she saw men or interacted with them as a result of her childhood. It has evidence from her further literary works, her own life, as well as interviews with friends.
Stevie and Marriage
Florence "Stevie" Smith grew up in unstable family conditions. Her family was falling apart, and she observed every moment with hushed censure. These repressed feelings can be seen in her poetry. Her unfortunate childhood experiences attribute to a mistrustful, cynical tone in her poem "Marriage I Think."
Smith's poem "Marriage I Think" contains many references to her belief that the bond of marriage between a man and a woman is fraudulent, particularly for the woman. Her poem reads,
Marriage I think
For women
Is the best of opiates
It kills the thoughts
That think about the thoughts,
It is the best of opiates.
(lines 1-6)
By comparing marriage (for women) to a mind-numbing narcotic, Smith clearly uses a pessimistic tone. She contends that the marital bond, contrary to popular belief, hurts women on the inside. In 1906 4-year-old Smith, her ill mother Ethel, sister Molly, and aunt Margaret are deserted by her father Charles, the main support of the family. Charles grows bored with the marriage, and abruptly sets out on his childhood dream of...

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