The Ladys Dressing Room

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“The Lady’s Dressing Room” The poem The Lady’s Dressing Room by Jonathon Swift describes what Strephon sees when his curiosity forces him to go into his lover, Celia’s dressing room while she is away. Swift is using Celia and Strephon as a symbol for all men and women. The idealized image of women by men, are upheld equally as much today as it was when Swift originally wrote this poem. It causes problems for both women and men, women become self-absorbed, and men develop unrealistic ideas of what women should look like. The poem not only criticizes the immense effort women go through in order to look beautiful, but the men’s idealization of feminine beauty. A lady’s dressing room is where this poem takes place. At the beginning of the play Swift notes a specific time length that it takes for Celia to get ready, he says “Five hours (and who can do it less in?)” (Swift 1). Through Strephon’s eyes we see how much time women spend making themselves beautiful when underneath all of the materialistic “litter” (Swift 8), they are normal human beings. Swift lists a great deal of items that he compares to as “litter” (Swift 8). All of these things are cosmetics and things of that nature that women use to make themselves “sweet and cleanly” (Swift 18). Strephon who compares Celia to a “goddess” (Swift 3) has entered into his loves dressing room out of curiosity to find out why it takes her five hours to prepare herself. “And first, a dirty smock appeared, beneath the arm-pits well besmeared” (Swift 11-12). This is Strephon’s first of many encounters of filthiness by Celia. He picks it up and examines it closely, and he cannot believe his eyes. How could his love, his goddess produce something of this nature? “A paste of composition rare, sweat, dandruff, powder, lead and hair” (Swift 23-24). Swift lists a number of grotesque findings, remnants of Celia beautifying herself.
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