“Montage” by Robert DeMaria Poetry Analysis

670 words | 3 page(s)

The given essay takes a close look at the poem called “Montage” by Robert DeMaria. In particular, this poem takes us from A to Z of Betty’s life; from the moment she is born, to the moment she passes away. The poem is filled with verbs and adjectives that characterize the main character and her life. The poem starts with the moment of Betty’s birth, when she is “born sticky-eyed, gasping, sucking, growling, howling, falling.” With each upcoming line, Betty’s life transforms and we see a pattern emerging — she is growing up and is transitioning through a series of crucial stages that usually occur in one’s life.

Basically, Betty is characterized by the various relationships in her life. From her high school romantic love, to her marriage, the birth of her children, etc. Essentially, the author presents Betty’s story as a narrative, filled with multiple events. Based on these events, the reader paints a storyline in her mind. On the one hand, the theme of the poem is human life and its evolution. On the other hand, the author compresses the human life into a short poem, simplifying it to the point where it seems like a joke. Here, the author employs irony to demonstrate how pathetic and typical a human life can seem from afar.

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Furthermore, the author relies on contrast and hyperboles in her poem. By listing a series of disconnected events, situations, objects, and people, the author places the reader in a state of suspense. The poem keeps one in a state of suspense; the setting changes so quickly that one has little or no time to concentrate on any one event that is taking place in Betty’s life; the series of events that are listed in the poem seem disconnected. For example, in a single line, the poem lists individuals who are close to Betty, yet have little in common: “Her dentist, husband, lawyer, broker, rotor-rooter man, and piano tuner.” Then, all of a sudden, the author skips to the topic of financing college for Betty’s children: “Wondering how to get the money to send the children to college.”

The poem relies heavily on extended metaphors; figurative language is also used by the author. Importantly, the poem employs hyperboles; for instance, at the end of the poem, the author describes how Betty looks at herself in the mirror, seeing “an old woman with lines in her face, who proves to be her very own self.” It seems that at this point, when being close to her death, Betty is once again left all to herself. Via this parallel, the author attempts to show us how the beginning and the ending of one’s life are the moments when the individual is left all to herself. The difference being that when one is born, she is unconscious of herself; yet, at the end of one’s life, the individual is usually well aware of her essence and has a wholesome sense of self.

Interestingly, in the final part of the poem, the author switches to the idea of consumerism all of a sudden. At the end of the poem, Betty’s whole life is reduced to the notion of consumerism; the world around her is described as a “consumer’s paradise.” Overall, the poem employs numerous contrasts to demonstrate the twists and turns experienced by the main character. This way, the author attempts to squeeze all of the turbulences of a human life into one short story. The paradox of the poem lies in the fact that in the whirlwind of events experienced by Betty, it seems like her life has gone by without any real purpose. The underlying message of the poem is that her life was, in a way, wasted on the empty promises of a consumerist reality. A poem which starts off so optimistically and energetically, ends with a rather sad note.

  • DeMaria, Robert. “Montage.” The College Handbook of Creative Writing, 3rd ed., Heinle & Heinle, 2002, p. 242.

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