In her book, “The Author To Her Book”, Anne Bradstreet conveys the deep and intricate demeanor of the author towards her work. Bradstreet uses a controlling metaphor of a child and its mother to describe all of these feelings towards one of her other pieces. To do this, she incorporates many figurative language devices within the controlling metaphor to help bring her point across to the minds of the readers. They include diction, imagery, and irony.
In order to present the controlling metaphor to the reader, Bradstreet uses words that relate to the concept of birth. In line one, she declares, “Thou ill-formed offspring of my feeble brain” to reveal how close she feels the ties are between an author and his or her composition. Diction also plays a large role in this quote and Bradstreet’s piece in general. In this quote, the word, offspring bears a powerful purpose, one of a strong bond between a child and its parent. Bradstreet’s use of this word imparts that Bradstreet’s attitude towards her works is one that is similar to this bond in her mind. In the second line of the poem, Bradstreet continues to say, “who after birth did’st by my side remain,” which reveals another connection to this poem’s controlling metaphor of birth and the close, yet complex relationship between an author and their work.
Another part of the controlling metaphor of a child that shows Bradstreet’s attitude about one of her works is contained in lines four through line fourteen. Within the lines, lie Bradstreet’s feelings about the state of her piece, shown through her feelings about the appearance of the metaphorical child. Throughout this piece, Bradstreet conveys a lack of perfection she feels towards her works. This is shown in the poem when she proclaims to her metaphorical child (her work), “I cast thee as one unfit for light” and “they blemishes amend”. These lines contribute immensely to the overall slightly arrogant, but caring attitude that Bradstreet feels towards her works. She feels that despite how great or deplorable her work might seem in the eyes of others, her work is never flawed in any way; she refuses to face the criticism that it would face if she were to release it to the public.
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Her attitude is also affirmed by the line, “and rubbing off a spot, still made a flaw.” In this quote, Bradstreet is relating to the reader that she feels that editing one of her works would bring even more imperfections, more problems to it; that she feels that she has an obligation to preserve it in its ideal, pure, unadulterated, original form. This quote is also great examples of both imagery and irony that Bradstreet uses to relate her point. By conjuring vivid images of spots of dirt being washed off of a child’s face, only to reveal more flecks of grime, Bradstreet helps the reader to relate to the frustration that she felt when one of her works were changed. To emphasize and expand upon her attitude about her works, Bradstreet describes her emotions towards critics who would take her child (work) away from her, the mother (the author) and butcher the work that she has worked so hard to conceive in lines twenty through twenty-four.
In these lines, Bradstreet advises her metaphorical child to lie to the critic that has come to their door by saying, “If for thy Father asked… she alas is poor.” What Bradstreet intended in this line was to convey to the reader through the use of a controlling metaphor that when a critic or an editor edits or somehow changes a work of hers to be published, the critic has made the piece an imperfect draft by doing so, never to be completely finished.
In her poem, “The Author to Her Book”, Anne Bradstreet reveals a complex and abstruse attitude that all authors share towards their pieces of literature by using the controlling metaphor of a child to describe different aspects of her beliefs.
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