On Ageing by Maya Angelou Essay
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Warning by jenny joseph is a humorous way of looking towards old age. It is written as a monologue within which the poet describes how she will behave when she is an old woman. In The first stanza she talks about herself and lists all the things she will do when she is old. She says she will wear the colours purple and red which are significant in the fact that they are bright garish colours. The two colours clash with each other and would not be put together by someone who cares about keeping up their appearance.
One of the main themes to this poem is the idea of rebelling against the way society expects you to behave and the idea of not conforming therefore she decides to deliberately make a statement with her appearance by wearing clashing colours to show rebellion against the idea of everyone looking the same- everyone conforming. This idea of rebellion is further emphasised when she says “I shall spend my pension on brandy… and say we’ve no money for butter”. She has decided that she is going to be deliberately difficult and irresponsible.
She is desperate to rebel against the norms of responsible adulthood and change the way she has always been ” escape from the sobriety of my youth” . The acts she chooses are harmless and humorous and she will be likely to get away with them as people will think she is senile. The fact that all of these things are what she wants to do in the future shows that she has never done this before and so she could be saying that old age is the time for freedom and to escape from the rules in society.
However this could also show that she is only able to do these things with the excuse of being elderly. She would never feel comfortable to break the rules without having the excuse of being senile etc hence why she is waiting until old age to do these things showing that she is still trapped in the rules of society. This shows the underlying more depressing image behind the humour that society doesn’t allow for freedom and the message of how the pressure there is to conform prevents you from being yourself.
All of the lines in the poem run on with a quick pace into each other reflecting the excitement and anticipation for the things she talks about doing. Throughout she repeats “and” and “I” which also adds to the pace and energy of the poem. The second stanza itself is one long sentence in which she directly addresses the reader with words of encouragement. She wants other people to feel and be able to do whatever they like without worrying about the social pressures of conformity, she could be thinking that if everyone does this then eventually those pressures will not be a problem anymore.