Choose a poem, which forces you to face up to an unpleasant truth. Show hot the poet achieves this effect.
You must refer to at least two of: theme; word choice; or any other appropriate feature.
In the world today, we, the public, spend so much time admiring stars from Hollywood and many of us want to be like them. Yet, there is so much pressure placed on them, and some times this becomes all to much for them to cope with and they end up taking away their live. This is the unpleasant and tragic side of being famous as we are all made to believe that fame will make you happy. Edwin Morgan brings this theme into focus in the poem ‘The Death of Marilyn Monroe’. He looks at how such a beautiful and worldwide icons such as Marilyn Monroe felt that to get rid of all the pressure that is associated with fame, she needed to commit suicide, which is the unpleasant truth, we the reader have to face while reading this poem. Edwin Morgan looks at this through the exceptional use of personification, symbolism and imagery. This was put to good use as it help me to create an image in my mind about how fame isn’t all that it is hyped up to be and that it allows the reader to see the darker side of fame.
Marilyn Monroe was the biggest film star in the late 50’s. She was portrayed as being a sex symbol on the silver screen. She was a massive icon worldwide and was admired by everyone. Even today people still admire her, 42 years after her death, as she has her image on bags and calendars. Monroe, wasn’t your average sex symbol, she wasn’t sleazy as she had this child like innocence that so many people admired her for, including women. Edwin Morgan conveys this idea of Monroe being a sex symbol, yet, also being child like, by using a series of rhetorical questions.
“What innocence? Whose guilt? What eyes? Whose breast?”
If you didn’t know anything about Monroe, you may find this opening line a little strange. As Morgan is saying she had this “innocence” and this seems like her is saying that she was child like and yet, Morgan goes onto mention her as a sex symbol. This mad Marilyn Monroe unique and special to her fans. Edwin Morgan also goes onto look at the death and asks who is responsible for it. By asking this question, it shows the reader the unpleasant side of fame as it could end up killing you. When Morgan says “Whose guilt”, he wants the reader to think about who could be at fault for her death at such a young age. I found these questions getting me to think about the pressures placed on famous people and it also got me thinking about the darker side of fame. Morgan then goes onto describe her background and what her life was like while growing up.
“Crumpled orphan, nembutal bed”
Morgan describes Monroe as being like an ‘orphan’. This also shows the reader the dark side to fame. Monroe never had anyone to look after her and to care for her since she was a little girl. Near to the last couple of years of her life, the only people around her were only there because she was rich and famous. Morgan then goes onto say she was “crumpled”. This means that she was broken and that she full of depression and isolation from others that she had no chance of escaping the great pressure she was under.
Edwin Morgan shows the darker side of fame through the use of personification. Everyone around the world is guilty of worshipping the rich and famous and believing that by achieving fame, we will all become happy because of it. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case, as the reality is film stars and other famous people become depressed. They only put up an act to show that they are in control of their lives, even through they aren’t. This was the case for Monroe, as she had no privacy, she was under pressure to be something that she wasn’t. She felt that to regain some sort of control over her live again, the only way was by taking her life away. This was all because of the demands of the film industry and being a huge film star.
“That Death should seem the only protector.
That all arms should have faded, and the great
cameras and lights become an inquisition
and a torment”
‘Death’ is personified and by giving it a capital letter, it seemed to Monroe that Death was a person. Marilyn Monroe felt that the only thing that could help her regain any sort of control over her live was Death. It was the only thing that could help her escape from the sheer pressure. This helps to convey the idea of how demanding it is to cope with being famous. Monroe was isolated and abandoned and her mind became confused.
While being famous, it is hard to have relationships, especially with other famous people, such as the Beckhams at the present moment. The writer looks at Monroe’s relationships with her husband and also explores other factors that could have lead to Monroe taking her life.
“Di Maggio! Los Angeles! Miller! Los Angeles! America!”
Monroe’s first husband was Di Maggio. He was a big sports star in America. In their day they were like the Beckhams. Always followed by the media. Di Maggio could not cope with the attention Monroe got from male admires and he ended up leaving her because of it. Even though he still loved her. Miller was her second husband and he had also abandoned her when she needed them the most. This had left Monroe feeling isolated and trapped with no escape route. Edwin Morgan then goes onto mention ‘Los Angeles’ several times. This emphasises how LA, this is where the film industry is based, is to blame for Monroe’s death. The film industry didn’t look out for her, when she was in trouble. They just chewed her up and spat her out when she wasn’t wanted.
The writer convinces the reader that there are many forces that have leas to Monroe’s death, her isolation and insecurity. He mostly blames the film industry for the situation she was in. He also mentions ‘America’ at the end of the quote. Morgan believes that America should have done more to protect her as she was seen as America’s child. The mention of ‘America’ also refers to the American Dream. He is critical of the idea of it and how it gives people false hope. It told Monroe that by achieving success it would make her happy, but in fact all it did was to make her unhappy and depressed. The dream was hollow and this caused Monroe to become trapped and isolated. The writer shows the real idea of the American Dream and shows that there is a darker side to it.
The writer shows that the way that Monroe died was a tragic end to a excellent career. The writer shows the reader how troubled her life was and how throughout her life she lacked love and privacy until her dying day.
” A method
of dying, we are shaken, we see it, Strasberg!”
Monroe’s death was seen as a drama production and it was fitting that it was her final act. Her death had deeply touched many people worldwide as they were ‘shaken’. They felt that Monroe was part of their family and that the film industry will never be the same without her.
Marilyn Monroe had the whole world at her feet, as she was rich and famous. Yet, fame has a darker side. Which makes you depressed and isolated. Fame is like a curse for many famous people and many people end up taking their lives such as Monroe. This gives the reader an insight of what fame is really like and what it gives you. Not money, but isolation and depression. In the end, being rich and famous only makes you unhappy, unlike what the American Dream tells us. Edwin Morgan is showing the reader the darker, more real side of fame. What we are told it is, but that is could end up taking your live away. Which is the price of being famous, that no one should pay.