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Use of Symbolism in Three Green Windows

Superficially, Anne Sexton’s poem Three Green Windows is an account of an old woman daydreaming an the verge of sleep. Upon looking deeper the reader realizes, through the use of general symbolism, the author portrayed the daydreams about a better life by a middle-aged woman, recalling the events of her past, and picturing what her future will be like. The order of the stanzas followed the order of present, past, then future. The organization made the shoreline of the woman falling asleep more realistic.

At first, the woman described her present situation: falling asleep while realizing her life was wasting away: “I have forgotten that I grow middle-aged” (line 6). The narrator, (the old woman), then went on to describe the simile of how she felt she looked in her present aging state. “I see three wet gargoyles covered with birds” (lines 10). The “gargoyles” symbolize how the woman felt her looks resembled; the ugly gargoyle covered with birds somewhat represents the woman’s feeling of ugly wrinkles and loss of beauty with age.

The last line which mentioned the skins of the gargoyles, backs up these views about how the gargoyles covered with birds represents the woman’s face growing ugly and wrinkled with her age, “Their skins shine in the sun like leather” (line 11). Throughout the first stanza the narrator began to notice things which reminded her of her past and future. The second stanza moves into the woman recalling her past. The stanza begins with the simile describing the woman to be “as light as a sponge” (line 12) symbolizing her small state as a child in her past.

In lines 14&15; this symbolism was prevalent, as the woman described her mother: “She is my mother. She will tell me a story and keep me asleep. ” The childhood innocence which the woman seemed to remember also obviously symbolized through the objects which she discussed. “I see leaves- leaves that are washed and innocent, leaves that never knew a cellar, born in their own green blood like the hands of mermaids” (lines 17-21).

The leaves seemed to symbolize her childhood innocence, and obviously they also showed how the innocence was lost with her growing older. The narrator’s future was portrayed through the use of symbolism in the third stanza. The reader is able to gather a feeling of being in heaven. The way in which the narrator described her movements and carefree way portrays this angelic state. “I turn like a giant, secretly watching, secretly knowing… ” (lines 28 &29;).

This line backs up the ideas that this stanza represented the woman’s future, in heaven. The last stanza acted as the concluding stanza. It incorporated all the symbolism and the present, past and future events into a basic summary. After awakening from her nap, in her half awake half asleep state, she realized that life was passing her by. Too much hoping for a better future, and sticking with the past, was taking away from her life at present. “I am young and half asleep, It is a time of water, a time of trees ” (lines 38 &39;).

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