To Elsie by William Carlos Williams Essay

1006 Words Feb 25th, 2008 5 Pages
When you hear the phrase "the American people" do you think of a people who are despoiled, alienated, or lost? William Carlos Williams characterizes the American people in this way in his poem To Elsie, which provides commentary on the American people's lost perspective. Through tone and imagery Williams tells of a self-alienating America that has lost perspective of its most treasured ideology, the American Dream, due to its violent and unstable tradition.
Williams' tone is a key component to understanding the message that he wishes to convey to the reader. In the first stanzas of the poem Williams' diction is often general and seemingly flaccid as he tries to articulate his understanding of "the pure products of America go[ing]
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The last stanza is a statement of sad acceptance that there is "no one/to witness/and adjust, no one to drive the car" (70-72). He realizes that perhaps there is no reason to get frustrated and perhaps has come to see that what he thought was misguided Americans striving for the wrong things such as "jewelry" (47), are in fact actually living the American Way of Life. Williams finally realizes that the American Way of Life is in bitter truth not the "fields" (62) and "deer" (61) but "jewelry" (47) and "flopping breast" (45).
Williams' use of imagery becomes an essential part of the experience of the poem as he uses it to guide the reader through his writing because it gives the poem certain images that are meant to convey hidden or ambiguous ideas. Williams' imagery in the first parts of the poem is harsh and derogatory as he associates industrial jobs with "young slatterns, bathed/in filth" to emphasize the horrific tasks that Americans are willing to perform. The derogatory imagery of these lines is meant to convey Williams' disgust with the American peoples' complacency. He believes that this complacency is tolerated by Americans who are all "tricked" by the institution because the American "imagination…have no/peasant traditions to give them/character" (16, 18-20). The marriage of the couple is described as having been "dash[ed with] Indian blood" which is a time where

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