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Tone In Roethke's "I Knew A Woman"

641 words - 3 pages

Tone is defined by The American Heritage Dictionary as a manner of expression in speech or writing. Our literature book expands on this definition by saying tone is not an attitude, but it is whenever the poem makes an attitude clear to us. One poet to whom tone is very important is Theodore Roethke, author of "I Knew a Woman." Roethke's writings range from clever poems in strict meter and regular stanzas to free verse poems full of imagery. Also, he is known for his use of environmental images in his works. In "I Knew a Woman," Roethke's tone is of a sexual sense. To fully examine Roethke's tone, we must examine his word choice, his use of connotations, and his meter and rhyme scheme.In Roethke's poem, "I Knew a Woman," he chooses his words very carefully to convey the tone he wants to his audience. At first glance, this poem seems totally innocent, but after a deeper look the true meaning of the poem becomes apparent. The reason the poem at first may seem totally innocent is because many of the words and phrases can have more than one meaning. An example of the use of a phrase with a double meaning is when the poet says he comes "behind her for her pretty sake." This phrase can be taken one of two ways. You can take it literally or you can take it in a sexual sense. Literally, this phrase would mean that the protagonist walked behind the beautiful woman. However, if you view this phrase in a sexual sense it means that the protagonist waited to reach climax until the woman was satisfied. This use of words and phrases having more than one meaning is a strong contributor to Roethke's tone.A second important contributing factor to Roethke's tone is his use of connotations. Lines that the audience would normally pass over contain hidden sexual meaning, revealed after a...

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