Metaphorical Language and Images in Kim Addonizio’s “What do women want?”

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Addonizio writes a poem that seems to be conveying a lot of messages to men than women. In order to relay his message effectively, she uses various literary devices including images and metaphor. By using these images and metaphors, she clearly elucidates his central theme; women’s desire for physical love. In her harsh but honest style, Addonizio employs stereotypes because it is something that we can all relate to. Her main focus is the sad stereotype that women are forced to accept and endure in the society. Some of the metaphors and images that Addonizio uses include the red dress, the glittering in the window to symbolize women who ‘glitter’, and the slinging pigs.

Addonizio uses red dress to detail how she feels nauseated by this trend. Addonizio chooses stereotype to detail about her feeling because it is something all readers regardless of the gender can easily relate to and in turn understand her very well. She uses a typical stereotype of a cheap, flimsy dress. This metaphor represents independence, beauty, boldness and the woman’s strong desire. Moreover, Addonizio writes “I want it too tight, I want to wear it until someone tears it off me. I want it sleeveless and backless, this dress, so no one has to guess what’s underneath.” (Lines 2-5). By employing this image, Addonizio clearly refers to stereotypes that belongs to women who like wearing red dress. These stereotypes imply that women are inferior objects to men. A woman does not just “want that red dress bad” (Line 16) but she feels the worth of being in that red dress which is always preserved for women. As result, it shows how women are independent.

Also, this red dress that Addonizio uses in her poem is not the actual red dress that women put on but rather a metaphor. The dress implies how women are independent people unware of the happenings in their surroundings. It symbolizes confidence. Addonizio’s concern is that a woman should not only to be seen as smart in red dress anytime she enters arrives in any place but rather to be portrayed as a confident and independent person. This might be walking in the market, a café or past men chanting by the road. Addonizio says; when she ‘…pull that garment form its hanger like she is choosing a body to carry me in the whole world…” (Lines 21-23) The moment she feels bold, independent and self-confident, nobody will view her as inferior to men.

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Addonizio uses the keys glittering in the window to symbolize those women who always glitter privately and go unnoticed. Addonizio uses glitter to refer to those women that the society despises despite the fact that they also offer something valuable. Keys are used to close or open a door thus barring any unauthorized access. Similarly, Addonizio uses them to imply privacy and protection of the belongings. Women too protect the man and the whole family. Just like keys are needed for opening the door, women are also important in life. The confidence of a woman in a red dress attracts attention just like glittering keys on a door. Also, the keys in a hardware always attracts the buyers’ attention by its glittering. Similarly, women should also be confident and shine with strong emotions regardless of who is around them.

Finally, Addonizio uses the image of slinging pigs to symbolize how most men are pigs. They always view women as weak and inferior members of the society; “past the Guerra brothers slinging pigs from the truck and onto the dolly, hoisting the slick snouts over their shoulders.” (Lines 11-13) This is a contrast to how women glitter like the glittering keys. While the ‘key’ glitters and attract attention, men (pigs) perceive them as inferior to them. It is ironical that Kim desire is that all women be free from all stereotypes regarding them while men portray this image of pigs.

Generally, Addonizio uses different literacy devices to clearly express his central theme; women’s desire for physical love. Some of these literary devices include imageries and metaphors. The imageries and metaphors Addonizio uses include red dress, the glittering in the window and the slinging pigs. These helps Addonizio to elucidate how women are confident, self-independent, bold and equal to men. Generally, women plays a significant role in the society hence should also be viewed as superior members of the society. Gone are the days when women were viewed as inferior to men.

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7 thoughts on “Metaphorical Language and Images in Kim Addonizio’s “What do women want?”

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