Friday, April 27, 2012


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Bruce Dawe uses his poetry as a tool to criticise the consumer driven America and societies with consumer values. He puts forward different ideas about consumerism through use of techniques such as metaphor, parody and colloquial language. This can be seen in particular poems such “Enter without so much as knocking” and “Americanized”.

The poem “Enter without so much as knocking” explores the negative issues of consumerism through the example of one mans life. The poem has a cycle structure, starting with “Blink, blink. HOSTPIAL” to symbolise his birth and ending on “Blink, blink CEMETERY” to symbolise his death. This structure helps to show how he was corrupted over time.

The idea that the young are too na├»ve and also ‘lucky’ that they have not been exposed to or corrupted by consumerism is presented in the first stanza of childhood. It is achieved through the use of colloquial language, “Hello, hello hello, all you lucky people” blares from the TV as the baby listens. The statement “lucky people” is ironic as Dawe uses satire to suggest that the child really was lucky because of his young age consumerism had not affected him.

The idea that consumerism rules our life is also presented. This is shown through use of imperative voice parodying common street signs such as “NO PARKING” then exaggerating them to “NO BREATHING EXCEPT BY ORDER” in a string of commands ordered in short, sharp sentences. Dawe is alluding to the fact that there is a lack of freedom because of consumerism and the rules that it has placed on society.

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Furthermore, the poem “Americanized” depicts America as a driver of consumerism and that it manipulates other countries to adopt American culture and values. It uses a continuing metaphor of an over protective mother and a powerless son to convey the idea that America is a dominating force in the world. This is shown through the child being referred to as “small” which suggests that he is vulnerable and powerless to the mother, who controls him in various ways from not letting him out to guiding him to the bathroom.

Another idea presented coinciding with the mother and son metaphor is the metaphor that the world is an invalid and America, the mother needs to “help it”. This is shown in the quote “she’s off to nurse an invalid called the world”. This is a notion of American supremacy and the idea that America is forcing its’ culture onto other countries.

Bruce Dawe has effectively used different techniques in his poetry to address issues of consumerism.

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