Author to Her Book
???The Author to Her Book??? Essay
The poem, ???The Author to Her Book,??? was written after the publication of Anne Bradstreet??™s first book and provides a look at how she felt about being published without her permission. Bradstreet uses the brilliant conceit of a child to show her personal thoughts on her work in a rather judging manner. In the poem ???The Author to Her Book,??? Anne Bradstreet uses the controlling metaphor of a baby being born and cared for by its mother to express the speaker??™s complex attitude and feelings toward their book. As the poem progresses, it is seen how the attitude of the speaker toward their ???child??? shifts from insecurity and regret, to pride and love, and finally to remorse and acceptance.
The first thing to understand about the conceit of the child is that the speaker??™s book is a reflection of how she sees herself. The ???child??? is ill-formed and has flaws, which represent what the speaker sees as imperfections within herself. The speaker is embarrassed and ashamed of the flaws in the book because they are the offspring of her own ???feeble brain??? and in turn the errors are errors of her own. She is so insecure that she considers them ???unfit for light.??? In the line: ???Till snatcht from thence by friends, less wise than true,??? the speaker holds a tone of anger not only because someone took her ???child??? without permission, but also because she is scared of what people will think of her ???child??? and of her. The fear of judgment that the speaker has, comes from the insecurity she has in her ???child??? and herself.
The speaker??™s tone is that of regret when the ???child??? is returned to her after many have seen and judged it, so she tries to make it better. She attempts to ???wash??™d thy face??? but only manages, in the speakers opinion, to make it worse. Washing the child, rubbing off blemishes, and stretching its joints seem to fail to improve upon the flaws of the ???child.??? The speaker is desperately trying to make everything perfect and raise the quality of the ???child??? to her standards, but she soon realizes that the imperfections will remain no matter what she does. Although the speaker??™s attitude seems negative, it shows that she truly cares about the ???child??? and wants to make it perfect so that it does well in society. Because the ???child??? is a part of the speaker, it is without a doubt that they would also have pride toward their possessions and work. The speaker takes ownership in the first part of line eleven: ???Yet being mine own??¦.??? regardless of the mistakes the ???child??? has. At the end of line eleven, however, we see how she criticizes her work again by saying that ???at length affection would thy blemishes amend.??? The speaker is saying that only her love, care and attention can make the ???child??? beautiful. She comes to the reality that nothing will be perfect and that she should just accept the ???child??? the way it is.
In the second half of the poem, a speaker??™s attitude changes yet again. The speaker wants to improve the ugliness of her ???child,??? in line 17, by providing new clothes. However, she is too poor and must have ???homespun cloth??? with which to dress her ???child.??? It is seen later, in the final stanza, the speaker??™s motive for allowing her book to be published: ???And for thy Mother, she alas is poor, which caus??™d her thus to send thee out the door.??? She complained about the imperfections of her ???child??? yet she has sent it out into the world to earn a living for herself. By the end of the poem, the speaker, while still holding a sense of insecurity, finally accepts her fate and the fate of her ???child.???
The controlling metaphor of a baby being born and cared for by its mother in ???The Author to Her Book??? helps the reader understand the attitudes of the speaker. The shame the speaker feels is logical because the ???child??™s??? physical flaws mirror the speaker??™s inner flaws. It also explains why her decision to submit her book for publication contradicts her feelings of insecurity and embarrassment toward the book. The speaker overcomes her fears and accepts her book not only because it needed to be done, but also because she wanted it to be done.
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