- Term Papers and Free Essays

The Lady's Dressing Room

Essay by   •  October 26, 2017  •  Essay  •  1,479 Words (6 Pages)  •  791 Views

Essay Preview: The Lady's Dressing Room

Report this essay
Page 1 of 6

Natasha Simms

English 328

Dr. Johnson

September 22, 2017

Essay 1

        Jonathan Swift is well known for his use of satire in his writings. “The Lady’s Dressing Room” is a prime example of his satirical work. It could be argued that Swift’s imagery in “The Lady’s Dressing Room” is degrading or tearing down women. He uses very detailed imagery to show how disgusting and vile a woman can be before they use make-up and fine clothing to cover themselves up. And to show that women aren’t always this prim and proper human that society makes them out to be. In the text, Strephon sneaks into Celia’s dressing room, searching through and taking a long look at her things all to have his image of women burst as he makes a new discovery. A very poor picture of Celia is painted for the reader, but this is not the sole purpose of the text. Although it is possible to read Swift’s writing as a misogynistic portrayal of women, it can be argued that his use of satire and the use of imagery is trying to prove to the ignorance of men and going to show that women are just as human as men are.

        While Strephon is examining Celia’s dressing room he recounts what he sees in a very detailed manner. Most of the poem is a description of what Strephon sees and how disgusted he is by the mess. Strephon lists things such as her brush being filled with dirt and loose hair, open containers of makeup and various oils/perfumes/antiperspirant, her towels that are covered in dirt and smell of soured sweat, a handkerchief full of snot, tweezers with plucked eyebrows, etc. The use of imagery allows the reader to understand how disgusting the sight is for Strephon. Strephon’s disgust is shown in the following passage, “But oh! It turned poor Strephon’s bowels, when he beheld and smelt the towels, begummed, bemattered, and belimed, with dirt, and sweat, and earwax grimed.” Strephon is clearly disgusted by what he sees and continues searching through the room.

        This use of tearing down Celia’s beauty to gross items in her dressing room is strengthened when Swift constantly mentions how women can be compared to Goddesses. In the text, Swift calls Celia a Goddess. Strephon’s view of Celia as a Goddess is short lived as his view of her is changed after seeing the inside of her dressing room. Because of the nature of the situation in which Strephon keeps digging through the dressing room, looking for something to remind him of Celia’s beauty, Swift makes a reference to the Greek mythological story of Pandora: “As from within Pandora’s box, When Epimetheus opened the locks, a sudden universal crew of human evils upward flew, he still was comforted to find that hope at last remained behind; So Strephon, lifting up the lid to view what was hidden in the chest, the vapors flew from out of the vent, But Strephon cautious never meant the bottom of the pan to grope, and foul his hands in search of hope.” While Strephon already believed Celia to be a goddess based off her beauty, Swift goes on to show not only the ignorance of Strephon but men in general on women’s beauty.

In the passage, Strephon is so disgusted that he keeps searching for one thing: Hope. He is looking for an item to prove that the rest of what he has seen is an anomaly. By referring to Pandora, Strephon kept up his search for hope to keep his misperception of beauty intact, while also highlighting his ignorance as he compares women to Goddesses. Strephon wants to keep his initial belief that women are as beautiful as Goddesses, although the evidence he sees proves that women are just as human and just as disgusting as a man. He is searching for a small piece of something that can in fact give him the hope that all women are not this disgusting. But, Swift is trying to convey that women are human beings, just like men. At the end of Strephon’s search through Celia’s dressing room, he realizes that women are not as beautiful as he once thought because he discovers the fact that Celia, much like men, also use the restroom. The fact that Strephon is shocked that women also pass bowel movements reiterates his ignorance of women. He believed them to be these perfect human beings, but he realizes, behind the scenes, women and men are not much different. Strephon is surprised to find out that women use the same gross process of bowel movements, which is something he already knows men do. This shows the he is surprised that women and men are both disgusting and are both equally human.

After this traumatizing experience for Strephon, he can no longer see women as the perfect, pleasing, person he had imagined them to be. “But vengeance, goddess never sleeping, soon punished Strephon for his peeping. His foul imagination links each dame he sees with all her stinks, and, if unsavory odors fly, conceives a lady stand by. All women his description fits.” This passage strengthens Swift’s point by connecting all women to what Strephon has witnessed. Strephon has witnessed the reality, the behind the scenes of what women go through, it’s not always a pretty picture behind closed doors. This helps to lead into Swifts final point, and his position on the subject matter. The following passage shows Swift’s purpose of the poem, “He soon would learn to think like me, and bless his ravished eyes to see such order from confusion sprung, such gaudy tulips raised from dung.”



Download as:   txt (8.1 Kb)   pdf (93 Kb)   docx (8.8 Kb)  
Continue for 5 more pages »
Only available on
Citation Generator

(2017, 10). The Lady's Dressing Room. Retrieved 10, 2017, from's-Dressing-Room/79832.html

"The Lady's Dressing Room" 10 2017. 2017. 10 2017 <'s-Dressing-Room/79832.html>.

"The Lady's Dressing Room.", 10 2017. Web. 10 2017. <'s-Dressing-Room/79832.html>.

"The Lady's Dressing Room." 10, 2017. Accessed 10, 2017.'s-Dressing-Room/79832.html.