The Red Dress by Dorothy Parker Summary

Dorothy Parker is an American poet, screenwriter, storywriter, and critic known for her eye on the 20th century urban foibles. She was a known personality in Hollywood for her screenwriting, and was awarded many awards, and was twice nominated for Annual Academy Awards. Her first collection of poetry, Enough Rope was published in 1926, and was a bestseller. This poem is from one of her collections, where I am going to analyse the poem critically, and give a summary. Go through the line by line summary of The Red Dress by Dorothy Parker here..

The Red Dress by Dorothy Parker Summary

I always saw, I always said
If I were grown and free,
I’d have a gown of reddest red
As fine as you could see,

In these lines the poet is saying that she had always wished and always known that she wants to be a deep red gown, if she ever grew up. She would have chosen to be a red gown if she ever had the freedom of making choice. She wanted to have a gown which no one had ever seen or come across ever and which is finest of all.

In these lines, the poet is metaphorically saying that she always knew and wished to be the loving and understanding woman in a relationship anyone had anyone seen. She knew that she would be free to fall in love, and love her companion unconditionally. The red gown is symbolic to a love and affection.

To wear out walking, sleek and slow,
Upon a Summer day,
And there’d be one to see me so
And flip the world away.

The poet is now saying that she’d wear the red own one fine Summer day, and walk around sleek and slow, and she knows that there would be one person who’d be there to see her, and change her world entirely.

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The poet is trying to say that she knows that there is someone out there who would see her and fall in love with her, as the red gown would attract him to her. She knows that there will be someone who would observe her, and her entire life would change. There would be someone who would flip her world and everything would change and become beautiful.

And he would be a gallant one,
With stars behind his eyes,
And hair like metal in the sun,
And lips too warm for lies.

The poet is now describing how this man of her dreams would look like. She says that his eyes would have a spark, like they have stars behind them, and his hair would shine in the sun as if they are metal on his head. In the last line, she says that he would never lie to her, and would be always honest.

In these lines, the poet is metaphorically describing about the appearance of the man of her dreams. She is saying that the man of her dreams would have shiny eyes, like two eyes that shine like two stars, and his hair would be shiny as beautiful. Her man would be a charm, a sight to eyes, and his lips would be too soft and warm. He wouldn’t lie to her ever, and would be always truthful and honest.

I always saw us, gay and good,
High honored in the town.
Now I am grown to womanhood….
I have the silly gown. 

The poet here is describing that she had always seen her and her lover being happy, that’s what she had always imagined. Everyone envied her and her relationship would be the most respectful one in the town. Everybody would love them, and would envy them. Now the poet comes to reality, where she has become a woman, and the much anticipated time has arrived in her life. But she now has the gown, and she is not happy with it.

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In these lines, the poet is trying to show her disappointment regarding the results how it turned out in her life. The poet says that now she has grown up, and become a woman, but she is not happy now. She dreamt that she’d be happy with him, and everyone would envy them. But instead, reality has hit her, where she is not happy with him, and things are not at all how she dreamt of.

This poem is an expression of Dorothy Parker’s utter disappointment and sadness with what she dreamt her love-life would be like, and how it has turned out. She had hopes about the man of her dreams, dreamt about him, and had a fantasy of her romantic life, but things didn’t turn out that way, and she is unhappy now. All her dreams are shattered and she is in sadness. The red gown is symbolic to the dreams of a young girl about her dream-boy.

This poem could also be seen as a transition between the dreams that a small girl grows up with, and the reality that hits her later, and changes her life and leads to disappointment. This is a condition of all the women in the world, where they are raised by telling fairy tales, and about the charming prince who comes and saves the princess from all the troubled and demons, and they live happily ever after. These small girls live on those dreams, and grow up, until they see the harsh face of the reality, where the dreams she has been seeing since her childhood had a different shape. When she sees the reality, she is unable to acknowledge it, and is sad and depressed that her dreams didn’t come true. Do go through The Red Dress Analysis here.

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