The essay sample on Portrait D’une Femme Analysis dwells on its problems, providing a shortened but comprehensive overview of basic facts and arguments related to it. To read the essay, scroll down.
With so many poetic, literary devices available to writers, it is not common for an author to use several as tools in the same piece in order to construct his point. Ezra Pound is known for his brilliant use of perfect word combinations, which produce outstanding metaphors that allow a more direct treatment of objects.
In Ezra Pound’s famous Portrait d’une Femme, he creates a direct treatment of a certain woman. However, without his ingenious use of previously mentioned mechanics, the poem would never have been what it is today.
In Portrait d’une Femme, Ezra Pound uses extended metaphors, word choice, and incredible imagery to criticize a woman of high social class. Pound begins his critique by using a beautiful extended metaphor, comparing this woman to “our Sargasso Sea” (1).
By using the word “our,” Pound familiarizes himself with the woman he mentions. He makes it known that he is aware of her type, and by doing so he is also gaining insight into the woman’s inner wirings which enables him to successfully critique her.
The Sargasso Sea is located in what is popularly known as the Bermuda Triangle, an area characterized by solitude, and it is most well known for its thick collection of seaweed that collects various pieces of useless debris as opposed to its extreme depth (Sea).
By comparing her to the Sargasso Sea, Pound indicates that the girl is not known for her depth, but rather as an empty recipient full of gossip and useless information. She somehow captures vast amounts of stray social knowledge and stores it in her mind, having it on mental file should the situation arise to access it.
As people view the sea as a mode of transportation, and intermediate between one piece of land to another, they view this woman as an intermediate between people- she has the ability to tell them what they need to know, cutting out the need to go directly to the source. In accordance to this, Pound then claims, “Greats minds have sought you-lacking someone else” (6). People of worth only speak to her as a last resort, because they are not necessarily interested in her type of information.
In connection to the Sargasso Sea, those routing ships to destinations tried painstakingly hard to avoid the area of the Bermuda Triangle, and to cross through it was a last resort (Sea). By using metaphor to compare this woman to the Sargasso Sea, Ezra Pound successfully illustrates a misunderstood woman clouded with useless information. Yet, in the next lines, Pound praises the woman for choosing this lifestyle. In doing so, he uses more common words associated with general conversation, which makes the description seem valid, as if he is speaking to the woman directly as opposed to through the poem.
Her superfluous amount of social knowledge and her acceptance of being a last resort says much about her, as it is her last resort, as opposed to the common path of woman which includes marriage and domestic life, a bland husband who uses his wife as a mere commodity to showcase his ability to please and to purchase. By stating that she “preferred it to the usual thing: / One dull man,” Pound claims that her choice at least sets her aside from the other women of her type, making her the one worthy enough to write about (8-9).
Pound then strips the girl of her hearsay knowledge and reveals her true self. She sits there, he has “seen her sit / Hours,” and waits patiently for someone of worth to acknowledge her and engage in conversation with her (11-12). However, all she has for him is her gossip, but at the same time, the man “takes strange gain away,” meaning that he does get something from the interaction, whether is be amusement or actual factitious knowledge (15). Even though many people come to her for the latest rumor and other insignificances, she does not mind; she craves that social interaction with others.
This mask of superficiality covers a woman who is suffering because no one is genuinely interested in her as a person. Through Pound’s use of conversational language, readers are more open to his criticism of this woman and are less turned off by Portrait d’une Femme. Throughout the next few lines, Pound again speaks in metaphors and creates believable images as he critiques her usual topics of conversation. He asserts that she and her companions speaks of “Trophies fished up… facts that lead nowhere… r something else / That might prove useful but never proves” (16-19).
Trophies fished up are symbolic of people’s exaggerated, boastful stories of themselves and personal milestone achievements, which the woman mindfully pays attention to, for she gains to benefit from these tall tales. Facts that lead nowhere are the “seaweed” of her mind, facts that may or may not prove useful in future conversing. These people “find their hour” in conversations with this woman, for though she may have heard a story before, she does want the contact with others (21).
The people drop great, famous names and speak of luxuries of their class such as perfumes and expensive fabrics (23). Pound, with a sense of disappointment, then says, “These are your riches, your great store;” only this is what you have to offer (24). Though she yearns to talk to other and exchange information with others, she does nothing with these encounters to better herself or her future conversational capacity. By using so many and so elaborate metaphors, Pound explains that what the woman has to offer is common knowledge and outrageous.
Gossip such as hers is easily found, and eventually such suggestive and vain conversations lose their jazz that once attracted so many, even as a last resort. In the end of Portrait d’une Femme, Pound states that this gossip is the woman’s only richness, it is the only item of which she has abundance. She is nothing more than a recipient for people to throw their intellectual rubbish to, and her sole role in life is to share and store that knowledge, carrying on others’ legacies yet losing herself in the process.
Pound recedes to his initial comparison, that of the woman to the Sargasso Sea. The woman, like the entrapping Sargasso waters, has so much to her name, yet “Nothing that’s quite her own. / Yet this is you” (28-29). She did nothing but listen in order to accrue such as wide array of acts, just as the Sargasso Sea does nothing except contain vast amounts of seaweed that accrue splintered debris. Like the sea, it is not her brilliance or beauty that defines her, but rather her skill of accumulation.
Through his use of metaphor, language, and imagery, Pound takes readers into the life of a woman who loses herself as she gathers pieces of others. By using these tools, Pound is able to criticize the woman while at the same time evoke feelings of sympathy and pity towards her. Pound does so in order to make an impression amongst those who read Portrait d’une Femme, an impression he hopes will steer them away from the gossip part of society and more towards the intellectual path.