Example research essay topic: Symbolsim Of Fathes As A Common Image In Poetry – 1,066 words

The works “My Papa’s Waltz” and “Those Winter
Sundays” are poems that explain a child’s love for
his fathers, even if, like in “My Papa’s Waltz,”
the father brings problems into the household. Of
the things the fathers do, some of them aren’t
always seen as the right thing to do. Theodore
Roethke, the author of ” My Papa’s Waltz,” uses
symbolism and imagery to help develop the meaning
of his poem, as does Robert Hayden, the author of
“These Winter Sunday.” These poems, written from
different points of views, both show love for a
father through the use of symbolism and imagery.
Symbols associate two things, but their meanings
are both literal and figurative. For example a
quote from Hayden’s poem, “who had driven out the
cold and polished my good shoes (lines 12,13).”
The speaker doesn’t mean that the father had
literally driven out the cold, but that instead
had run the cold air out by warming the house with
a fire. The poem states that the father had
polished the child’s “good shoes (line 13).”
Literally meaning the father works all week, and
still comes home to clean, cook and even rise
early on his days off to try to make life better
for his child. Yet the child still spoke
indifferently to him, making the father feel lowly
and humble.

Symbolism also plays a role in
Roethke’s poem. The main symbol in his poem would
have to be the father’s waltzing. The waltz is not
known for being a difficult dance, just a dance in
which someone must lead. The child states, “Such
waltzing was not easy (line 4).” This may
represent the way in which the father was leading
the child, very demanding, maybe even pulling on
the child at times, to hurry him up. The last line
of the poem states “then waltzed me off to bed
(line 15)” which shows that as poorly as the waltz
started off, it ended in a peaceful and
comfortable place. These examples help show that
no symbols have absolute meanings, and by their
nature, we cannot read them at face value.

The two
poets also use imagery in their poems to help
illustrate the love and dignity for the boy’s
fathers. Imagery is a form of language that
embodies an appeal to a physical sense, usually
sight, although the words may invoke sound, smell,
and taste and touch as well. Hayden uses imagery
to help explain what the father does to show his
love. One line in “Those Winter Sundays,” states,
“With cracked hands that ached/ from labor in the
weekday weather made/ banked fires blaze (line
3-5).” Hear the speaker is showing that the
father, even though he has worked all week in the
extremely cold winter conditions, wakes early to
start a fire and warm the house for the family.
This image is given to help us, the reader, better
understand the father’s rough position. He wakes
his child when the house is warm; the child speaks
“indifferently” to his father even though his
father had warmed the house. The father rises
early on those “blueblack cold (line 2)” Sunday
mornings, to bring the house to life.

We really
get a clear picture of how the father is wonderful
for waking early to “bank” the fire and drive out
the “chronic angers (line 10)” and the
“clod-splintering breaking (line 6).” One
similarity between these two poems is that both
authors use imagery, but Roethke uses imagery to
show a father’s control over his child, such as in
the line, “The hand that held my wrist (line 9).”
This line could suggest many things, such as the
harsh physical control and even manipulation over
the little boy. Most people would hold the child’s
hand, a much calmer and less harsh approach to
having control. We are also told that the hand
that holds the child’s wrist “was battered on one
knuckle (line 10).” This could lead us to believe
that the father leads a dangerous and rough life
style. Another frightening characteristic of the
father is the smell of whiskey on his breath, so
strong it could make a small boy dizzy. A
conclusion that could be made from this is that
the father is a drunk who gets in fights and beats
objects or people. The speaker also says that the
father “beat time (line13)” on his head instead of
“kept time,” connoting a method, harsh in its
manner for keeping time to the waltz.

The father
obviously doesn’t seem to mind harming the child
or else he would stop the drinking, so that he
could walk without stumbling. Both of these poems
speak about fathers and their sons, but Hayden’s
poem describes a well-balanced, hard working
father. The speaker in Hayden’s poem uses imagery
and symbolism to increase the validity of the
poem. The father is shown as a selfless man who
warms the house and cleans to help create an
inciting home for his family. But the true side of
the child comes out when he chooses to act both
ungrateful and indifferent towards the father. The
speaker seems to regret not thanking his dad what
he has done.

The speaker may feel bad that he
acted so unkindly towards his father after
reviewing all that his father has done to make
ends meet. In Roethke’s the father is explained in
such a way that we get a picture of a harmful
father. In “My Papa’s Waltz” we may conclude that
the father is abusive and very stern. When we look
at the fact that the child’s father drinks, and
miss’s steps and the mother frowns on the father,
we can draw a picture suggesting poor kept,
unmannered man. We realize that the child still
loves his father, maybe because he is just to
young to understand the dirty ways of his father.
The two poems expressed in this writing, although
not the same in context share the use of imagery
and symbolism to help express their stories and
ideas. We see how images illustrate concepts,
things and/or processes appealing to the senses.
We also see how using symbolism can change the
meaning of a word and make us understand things in
a whole new light.

These authors use both
symbolism and imagery to help open our eyes and
help us better understand what about our fathers
that we either take for granted or wish we could

Research essay sample on Symbolsim Of Fathes As A Common Image In Poetry