Thursday, November 13, 2008

Anne Sexton - The Other Woman

I just finished re-reading some poems by Anne Sexton. Most of her work is appealing to me in a "different" way. One poem in particular that stuck out for me was “You All Know The Story Of The Other Woman”.

The poem is basically about a woman whose significant other is cheating on her. The poem focuses on Sexton’s idea of what the man’s relationship with his mistress consists of. Sexton comforts herself by imagining the other woman as an inanimate object rather than viewing her as a real person. By not seeing the other woman as a person, she disqualifies any bond that her significant other and his mistress can possibly have. She says the other woman is the man’s selection part time, but when he is done with her he will put her back. This thought process makes it easier for her to accept the betrayal and still keep her self-worth. Sexton doesn’t deny the physical relationship that her significant other has with the other woman, but believes it is limited to just that. Sexton sums up the man’s relationship with the other woman as merely a carnal pursuit that takes place during nocturnal hours strictly for the fulfillment of his lustful desires. Sexton also assumes that the other woman can’t truly know her significant other very well due to the limited amount of time they spent together. She tells herself that the mistress is his “play-thing” and she is the woman he really cares about. She thinks she is the woman who has a real connection with him because he always comes back to her in the light of day. I believe it was Sexton’s intention to show this particular point of view in order for the reader to identify with her.

This poem made me think about the many excuses that people can come up with to fool themselves into thinking they are in a normal relationship. People suffer many different types of abuse, whether it is physical, verbal or emotional. It is easy to say that you would react a specific way if you ever found yourself in a certain hypothetical situation, until you actually found yourself in the real situation. It is also very easy to judge other people’s decisions without knowing all of the factors that lead to those decisions. The poem illustrates how we can become accustomed to and rationalize just about any situation we encounter no matter how absurd it may actually be. It also makes me wonder just what would be considered out of the question nowadays…


Anonymous said...

I am writing a research paper on Anne Sexton's poem, You All Know the Story of the Other Woman. I would like to quote parts of your analysis in my paper. If you would contact me at I would appreciate it. Thank you.

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