The Shadow Doll Eavan Boland (Boland reflects on nature & the meaning…
The Shadow Doll Eavan Boland
Boland reflects on nature & the meaning of marriage.
Poem was inspired by a Victorian porcelain doll that the poet viewed in a museum.
The doll (a miniature bride) would have been sent by a dressmaker to a bride to help her decide on a design for her dress.
Boland uses the doll as a symbol to explore the silence surrounding women and women's issues in Victorian and modern times.
Marriage is seen as a kind of imprisonment that confines women & silences them.
The doll is described in a series of concrete images.
The description suggests the delicate beauty of the dress.
However the language used in relation to the doll evokes a sense of restraint, for example "stitched" "airless glamour" "under glass"
Stanzas 4&5 focus on the Victorian bride herself
As the bride to be views the doll she has a vision of herself as the actual bride.
She gets a frightening insight into the restricted nature marriage.
Poems final section, switches to Boland herself on the night before her own marriage.
Her repetition of "vows" seems to suggest a feeling of worry.
She is surrounded by wedding gifts & cards - typical wedding culture.
"astray among the cards and wedding gifts"
"and fall with the vows"
The closing image is one of confinement and feeling of restriction.
The repetition of "pressing down" suggests a growing sense of claustrophobia at the thought of marriage.
The onomatopoeia of the word "locks" suggests the clang of a prison door where the prisoner is denied freedom.
There is a clear indication that with regards to women and marriage, little has changed since Victorian times.