Judith Beveridge Essay
According to Judith Beveridge, nature is constantly abused and neglected, as a result of industrialisation, a process occurring under the direction of a patriarchal society. This idea is supported by the context of her poetry, a time where power was something that men were supposed to possess. She demonstrates her opinion to her readers through the use of poetic techniques in her poems Domesticity of Giraffes and Streets of Chippendale. Domesticity of Giraffes portrays themes of environmentalism, when assisted by a feminist reading. Nature is confined, closed off, and lost in a modern, industrialised society. Nature’s inhabitants therefore, are also closed off, and here a giraffe is called a ‘wire-cripple’ (line 16). This metaphor suggests that the wires are oppressing the giraffe and in turn, nature.
At the same time, the wire is symbolic of industrialisation and the involvement of a patriarchal society in this process, through the application of Beveridge’s context, in which a male dominated society was seen as unfair and women began to develop and address their own political views. Thus, nature is portrayed as an innocent party, governed by the undeserved power of a patriarchal society. The poem also conveys nature as diminishing and being replaced by an industrialised society. The existing nature and its remaining inhabitants are lost, lonely and longing for companionship. Here, a giraffe looks ‘towards the tall buildings she mistakes for a herd’ (lines 6 – 7). Through the reapplication of Beveridge’s context, it is evident that the use of enjambment after ‘buildings’ is used, once again, to emphasise the recurring symbol of industrialisation due to a patriarchal society, which is represented by ‘tall buildings’.
It also emphasises the longing and loneliness of the giraffe, as she is shown to look for anything that she shares a similarity with for companionship. Thus, nature is seen as helpless in an industrialised society. As a result, the techniques in Domesticity of Giraffes collaborate to convey that nature, with its innocence and helplessness, has unjustly become a slave to an industrialised patriarchal society. Additionally, Streets of Chippendale portrays themes of environmentalism when assisted by a feminist reading. Nature here is non-existent. It has been taken over by an industrialised society, and ‘Streets named Ivy, Rose and Myrtle – now lack a single tree’ (lines 1 – 2). Juxtaposition is used here to emphasise the contrast between ‘streets’ and ‘ivy, vine rose and myrtle’, which are all names of trees.
The emphasis on ‘streets’ connotes the recurring representation of industrialisation due to a patriarchal society, when coupled with Beveridge’s context. Consequently, the use of enjambment after ‘Myrtle’ places emphasis on the irony, that streets named after trees, have no trees in them due to industrialisation. Thus, nature is seen as being mocked by a dominant, patriarchal society. The poem also conveys nature as a possession. Chippendale is seen as a place that tries to own nature, ‘where residents dressed in slacks and turtlenecks are walking pedigree dogs’ (lines 8 – 9). Here, a pun is used to bring out the meaning of the word ‘turtle’ in ‘turtleneck’, which along with a literal interpretation of ‘dog’, brings about connotations of the ownership of nature.
Also, the resident, wearing a turtleneck and walking a pedigree dog, is seen as powerful and upper class, and therefore, through the application of Beveridge’s context, represents a patriarchal society. Thus, nature is seen as the possession of an ungrateful patriarchal society. As a result, the techniques in Streets of Chippendale collaborate to convey that nature is useless and unimportant in an industrialised patriarchal society. In conclusion, Judith Beveridge’s poems, Domesticity of Giraffes and Streets of Chippendale, give its readers the message that nature is constantly abused and neglected because of industrialisation, which is caused by a patriarchal society. This message is created through the application of feminist reading and her use of poetic techniques, while taking into account her context.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 3 June 2017
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