Death and Taxes: The Barbed Laughter of Existence: Confronting Mortality and Heartbreak in Parker's Later Works - Dorothy Parker

American literature essay. Literary analysis of works and characters - Sykalo Evgen 2023

Death and Taxes: The Barbed Laughter of Existence: Confronting Mortality and Heartbreak in Parker's Later Works
Dorothy Parker

Parker's Later Works: Confronting Mortality and Heartbreak with Barbed Laughter of Existence
In her latter works, Dorothy Parker, the wit whose barbs had shone with youthful cynicism, dipped her pen deeper into the ink as the shadows became longer. Published in 1931, Death and Taxes is a monument to this change, a tapestry woven with the themes of heartbreak and mortality punctuated by the sharp humor that has come to define her work.

Death's Grim Welcome:

The poems in Death and Taxes are now direct confrontations with death's actuality rather than merely whimsical dalliances. Parker's stare fearlessly conveys the loneliness, the quiet desperation, and the fear that come with our impending death.

"The Wall Street Journal" chronicles the imminence of death using the clinical language of finance, with each sentence representing a tick on the clock of the author's own mortality.

With a chilling directness, "Epitaph for a Lady" declares, "Here lies a lady, cold and still / Who once was warm and very much alive / The worms have feasted on her fill / And so have I."

Laughing While Grieving:

Parker's wit persists as a flickering flame, illuminating the darkness with a sarcastic brightness, despite mortality's terrible grasp. Her humor, meanwhile, is no longer lighthearted and carefree; instead, it is infused with a keen understanding of how fleeting life is.

"The Last Tea" portrays an elderly group conversing about death in a horrific fashion, interspersed with gallows humor and sardonic wit.

With a harsher tone, "The Flaw in Pagan" returns to the theme of lost youth, ridiculing the pointless attempts to relive the past and bemoaning the inevitable withering of beauty.

The Aftereffects of Heartbreak:

Death and Taxes is a monument to the lingering pain of heartbreak as well as a meditation on mortality. The anguish of lost love, the disappointment of betrayal, and the emptiness left by broken relationships are all themes in Parker's poetry.

With a grimace of self-awareness, each line in "Men" is a bitter pill eaten. It is a sarcastic chronicle of male shortcomings.

"Resume" returns to the subject of former loves, but this time it acknowledges the ghosts that still linger in the present and does so with a greater sense of loss and regret.

Increased Technical Mastery

In Death and Taxes, Parker displays his unwavering command of form. She writes in a range of styles, from free verse to sonnets and villanelles, each poem suited to the particular emotional terrain it addresses. Her picture is often harsh and frightening yet unquestionably beautiful, and her language is exact and emotive.

Sustaining Legacy:

More than merely a compilation of poems, Death and Taxes is a monument to Parker's bravery and candor in facing the most difficult aspects of the human condition. She gives us permission to laugh in the face of death and sadness by sharing her sharp laughter, showing us that beauty and purpose can still be discovered even in the darkest places.

Additional Analysis

Examine how certain historical occurrences, such the Great Depression and the emergence of fascism, impacted Parker's later writing.

Examine how drinking and drug usage are depicted in Parker's poetry. What role do they play in the themes of heartbreak and mortality?

Parker's handling of death and heartache can be compared and contrasted with other poets who have written on related subjects, including Sylvia Plath or W.H. Auden.

In summary:

Dorothy Parker laughs heartily and tosses back her head in Death and Taxes when faced with death and heartache. But her scathing laughter is not cruel; rather, it is a courageous act of resistance against the darkness and a common acknowledgment of our human predicament. Parker reminds us that beauty and purpose can still be discovered in the ephemeral moments of life, despite the inevitable. He does this by addressing our worries with honesty and humor.