Generations of Sartorial Literature

Published: 2021-09-13 23:20:10
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Category: Lifestyle

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Imagine you were asked to rate, on a scale of one to ten, how important it is for your boyfriend or girlfriend to wear standard, decent clothes. It could be for a date, or for anywhere in general. I can picture quite a few of you saying “Oh no! I don’t care about what he/she wears!” Is this really an honest answer? Granted, you yourself might not mind your significant other wearing just about anything he/she wants, but other people definitely will. Can you honestly claim that you are fine with what anybody says about your beloved? Does clothing have no extrinsic value whatsoever, and are we merely conditioned to believe that clothing correlates to one’s personality? Does a person’s gear necessarily signify their modesty?
It is because of questions like these that I have chosen to write my paper on clothing. Obviously, there is more than meets the eye to whatever people wear. There must be stories behind every out-of-place belt and titled tie and “cuff neglectful” and “careless shoe-string” (Frost, “Delight in Disorder”). Sometimes, a piece of clothing might change a man’s life and even prompt his spirit to linger and haunt people after death (Gogol, “The Overcoat”). Often times, when a person is fed up about having to don ‘formal’ clothes like sari or suits for a presentation (yours truly included!), he or she may wonder why it is that these clothes are deemed ‘formal’ to begin with, and here their sentiments lie with Kaiser Haq’s vision of sartorial equality (in “Ode of the Lungi”).Various writers have had these very same thoughts as I am having, and they went about putting ink to their thoughts. I am going to delve into one work of literature each from three writers and talk about their stance to clothing. Robert Herrick, in the poem “Delight in Disorder” breaks conventional beauty standards and stresses that appearance is not the end-all-be-all, which means that looks are not everything. Kaiser Haq uses “Ode on the Lungi” as a platform to criticize the biasness about clothing and the social view that some clothes “obviously are more equal than others.” Finally, my last point will be how Nikolai Gogol, in “The Overcoat” symbolizes a piece of clothing – an overcoat – with poetic justice.
Robert Herrick’s “Delight in Disorder” is famous for its use of oxymorons. An oxymoron is the use of two seemingly contradictory words which actually make sense on close inspection. The title itself is an oxymoron. We would not normally associate there to be ‘delight’ in ‘disorder’. However, it is clear from reading the poem that the speaker feels attracted towards his beloved’s messy nature: her “erring lace” “enthralls” (captivated, enchants) him; her “tempestuous petticoat” (an oxymoron) has a “winning wave” – meaning that it wins his heart – and has a “deserving note” (there are connotations of music, as if the speaker is getting a soothing vibe from his love’s disorderly dress as he would get from a song, thus the word “note”); he also finds a “wild civility” in her “careless shoe-string”.
The “tempestuous petticoat” is both a visual and kinesthetic image. A tempest is a storm, so the petticoat is described to look stormy – say, for example, when the girl is outside when the wind is blowing, and the unironed dress is chaotically flowing like a storm. Furthermore, it is a “fine distraction” for him that his beloved’s shawl is thrown “about the shoulders” – suggesting that she is so nonchalant about her dress code that she does not adjust her shawl. This also signifies her impatience. She is lazy to properly wear her clothes properly, or she does not care about it to the point that she completely disregards it, thinking neatness not worth her time and effort.

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