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The poem by Marge Piercy is, in essence, a reflection of the inflicted values in social standards. Often, children born in the upper classes are granted “an attractive pot”, or others born with unique attributes and special talents mirror this pot. However, these are either shut down and their abilities dissipate, or they do not learn the importance of becoming an eminent figure on their own. The author believes that without these constraints, those of bildungsroman, one can grow to their full potential until shut down again. While most cases include a gardener that “carefully pruned it”. The diction used by Piercy, ‘pruned’, conveys the gardener’s manipulative action on the trees. The gardener has the ability to mold it to its liking like a bonsai tree, with limited space to grow, a limited height, and limited identity. Diction that conveys manipulative actions is further seen to demonstrate that the author differs with this idea of control. The pot symbolizes constrained resistance of the tree. While the pot is aesthetically attractive, almost as the title suggests, the tree should mimic that attractiveness. Similarly, women are expected to be attractive and the influence of her home molds her to conform to a physically appealing image. Piercy’s personal opinions are evident throughout the poem, and she does not believe in the way women are treated in society. It is almost satirical and with an indirect scorn with which she refers to the constraints. The words “whittles”, “croons”, “lucky”, “dwarf”, and “bound”, further derive this negative connotation to create the theme of imperative importance. By ending the poem with a list, she demonstrates the clarity in that women are oppressed and dehumanized in the way they are oppressed, carved as superficial creatures of beauty and perfection. While their thoughts are silenced, and their freedom extinguished, they should live freely until “lightning” struck. In liberty of action and commitment, women should be as free as a wild tree. 

Categories: Identity


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