An Exploration of Anne Sexton's "Her Kind"

Categories: Anne Sexton

Anne Sexton's poem, "Her Kind," stands as a compelling piece enriched with powerful imagery, deliberate diction, and a distinctive syntax. The meticulous use of these elements contributes significantly to the creation of a robotic and non-human tone within the poem. This essay will delve into the intricacies of Sexton's craft, exploring how her manipulation of syntax, diction, and imagery shapes the overarching theme of discontent and the desire for a different existence.

Syntax as a Vehicle for Tone

Sexton's use of syntax in "Her Kind" plays a pivotal role in establishing the robotic and non-human atmosphere permeating the poem.

Notably, the lines are concise and punctuated with commas, which act as structural elements defining the rhythm of the poem. The strategic placement of commas, dividing each line into two halves, creates a cadence that almost mimics the author's sighs, conveying a sense of boredom and monotony. An illustrative example is found in the line, "I have gone out, a possessed witch.

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The intentional brevity of the lines and the consistent use of commas contribute to a lack of enthusiasm in the poem, aligning with its thematic elements. Additionally, the commas serve to modulate the pace of the reader. For instance, the line "dreaming evil, I have done my hitch" encourages a slower reading pace, echoing Sexton's sense of boredom and ennui. Through her meticulous manipulation of syntax, Sexton crafts a tone that underscores the mundane and repetitive nature of the protagonist's existence.

Diction: The Power of Simplicity

Sexton's choice of diction in "Her Kind" may not involve lengthy or intricate words, yet it carries substantial weight in conveying the poem's tone.

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The simplicity of the words employed contributes significantly to the overall robotic and dispassionate atmosphere. An illustrative instance can be found in the line, "I have been her kind."

These brief and unembellished words pack a punch, efficiently communicating the essence of the poem in a straightforward manner. Sexton's deliberate use of simplistic language aligns seamlessly with the non-human and indifferent tone, emphasizing the stark reality of the protagonist's experiences. The juxtaposition of mundane words with profound implications serves as a testament to Sexton's mastery in creating a tone that reflects the emotional detachment and weariness of the speaker.

Imagery: Crafting a Non-Human Narrative

The imagery employed by Sexton in "Her Kind" contributes significantly to the portrayal of the speaker as a non-human entity engaging in unconventional activities. Notably, the poet describes feeding creatures in the forest, such as worms and elves, cultivating an otherworldly and peculiar character. While on the surface, this character may seem inhuman, a deeper analysis reveals Sexton's veiled references to her own life and personal experiences.

When Sexton details how she "fixed the suppers for the worms and the elves: whining, rearranging the disaligned," she metaphorically depicts the challenges of catering to her fidgeting and demanding children. The imagery, therefore, serves as a nuanced exploration of Sexton's dissatisfaction with her current life and societal perception. The non-human activities become symbolic expressions of her struggle to conform to societal expectations and the unfulfilling nature of her domestic responsibilities.

Conclusion: The Robotic and Inhuman Reflection

In conclusion, Anne Sexton's "Her Kind" presents a thought-provoking exploration of the speaker's discontent with her existence. The robotic and non-human tone pervading the poem is meticulously crafted through the manipulation of syntax, diction, and imagery. Sexton's use of commas establishes a rhythmic monotony, mirroring the speaker's sighs of boredom. The simplicity of diction starkly communicates the emotional detachment, while the imagery of non-human activities symbolizes the internal struggles of the protagonist.

Sexton, through her adept use of literary elements, invites readers to reflect on themes of societal expectations, personal dissatisfaction, and the quest for authenticity. "Her Kind" stands as a testament to Sexton's ability to convey complex emotions through seemingly simple language, underscoring the enduring relevance of her poetic legacy.

Updated: Dec 01, 2023
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An Exploration of Anne Sexton's "Her Kind". (2016, May 13). Retrieved from

An Exploration of Anne Sexton's "Her Kind" essay
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