In this poem, the poet shows us how difficult it can be for a young girl to grow up. In childhood, we are happy to listen to fairy tales and imagine ourselves to be in the same situation. However, this cannot last forever. At some point of time or the other, we all have to grow up. One part of growing up is leaving fairy tales behind and learning to accept reality as it is. Hence, we must get used to having our own set of responsibilities, such as doing our homework or keeping our rooms clean.
This is a part of every child’s growth into adolescence and then adulthood. However, this process is more difficult for girls than it is for boys. This is because girls are always expected to behave in a certain way, to be the epitome of elegance in their every movement. That is why Amanda’s mother does not allow her to slouch and wants her to sit up straight instead. Young girls are also expected to take care of their appearance. That is why Amanda’s mother does not want her to develop acne on her face, and so she tells her not to have any chocolates. Young girls are expected to always smile and be sweet, and never to express any bitterness.
That is why Amanda’s mother tells her not to sulk or to be moody. However, such expectations can seem like a burden to young girls, and that is exactly how Amanda feels. She does not want to be denied chocolate, and she wants to sit and behave exactly as she wants to. She would rather indulge in fantasies than clean her room or her shoes. In other words, Amanda wants to postpone growing up and would like to remain a child for just a little bit longer.
Poetic Devices in the Poem Amanda:
In this poem, each of the stanzas spoken by her mother follow the rhyme scheme AABA, since the last word of the 1st, 2nd and 4th lines are the same, that is, “Amanda”. On the other hand, the stanzas spoken by Amanda consist of three rhyming lines each.
Metaphor: This rhetorical device is used when a covert comparison is made between two different things or ideas. In this poem, the poet uses the device of metaphor in the 2nd, 4th and 6th stanzas as Amanda compares herself first with a mermaid, then with an orphan in the street and finally with Rapunzel.
No other rhetorical device is used by the poet here, but that does not take away from her poetic skill in any way. The poem is still a delightful read, and its message is an empowering one as well.
Central Idea of the Poem Amanda:
This poem describes several encounters between Amanda and her mother, in which her mother always corrects her behaviour, telling her to sit up straight and not to sulk, to clean her room and not to have chocolates. In response, Amanda withdraws into a world of fantasy and imagines herself to be in other situations than her own – as a mermaid, as an orphan and as the princess Rapunzel.
Themes of the Poem Amanda:
End of childhood: Childhood is a time when we indulge in our fantasies and we do as we please. But as soon as we reach adolescence, we are expected to abandon such practices and do as we are told. Amanda has reached that midway age between childhood and adulthood. The poet shows this in a subtle manner, through the growth of acne on her face. Because she is no longer a child, her mother expects her to fulfil certain responsibilities such as finishing her homework on time, or cleaning her room and her shoes. However, Amanda wants to postpone the process of growing up. So she withdraws into the childhood world of fantasies and fairy tales.
Expected behaviour of young women: As girls grow into women after puberty, they are expected to act and behave in certain ways becoming of a lady. They are expected to sit up straight, to take care of their appearance, and to always be sweet and smiling. This is exactly what Amanda’s mother wants her to do, and she is willing to scold Amanda and even take away her chocolates to make her become the woman she is expected to be – prim, proper and radiant. However, these expectations are just a burden to Amanda and she would much rather be left alone. That is why all her fantasies place her in a world that is away from other human beings and their expectations. As a mermaid, she is alone in the sea; as an orphan, she is alone on the street; as Rapunzel, she is alone in her tower. Amanda thinks that it is only in the realm of her own imagination that she can be free of all the expectations that are put on young girls of her age.
Tone of the Poem Amanda:
The tone of this poem is amusing on the whole. However, the tones used by Amanda’s mother and by Amanda herself are vastly different. Amanda’s mother is authoritative and strict. On the other hand, Amanda is dreamy and childish. The clash between them is what provides amusement for readers.
Klein’s “Amanda” is a poem to which every young girl can relate. We have all felt pressurized to be perfect, and more often than not, that pressure has come from our mothers. Perhaps we have also dealt with the pressure in the same way that Amanda has – slowly but surely resisting it. However, our mothers haven’t stopped nagging us, because they feel that it is for our own good. Hence, the entire trajectory of this poem is something with which we are all very familiar.
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