Poetry is one of the oldest arts. Poems come in many forms from songs, ballads, and epics, to haikus. Many poets use elements like similes, metaphors, personification, rhymes, and imagery to get their themes or meanings across to the reader. In the poem “Schizophrenia”, Jim Stevens uses personification of the house to give the poem its overall meaning. Personification and symbolism are the most important poetic elements to “Schizophrenia” because they are used to describe how the house can never be the same after the effects of schizophrenia and how the house personifies and symbolizes a family and the person with schizophrenia.
One of the first major and noticeable uses of personification of the house takes place in the lines “It had begun with slamming doors, angry feet scuffing the carpets, / dishes slammed onto the table, / greasy stains on the cloth” (Stevens 673) These lines show how the house is personifying a person when they first get schizophrenia and how things began to change.
Things in the house had started to be destroyed but it was only the beginning of what will happen to the house or person with schizophrenia. The next use of personification in the poem is “The house came to miss the shouting voices, / the threats, the half apologies, noisy / reconciliations, the sobering that followed.” (Stevens 673). This shows how the house is personifying a person with the illness. This can also personify the family that takes care of the person with schizophrenia. It helps by making it clear that the illness has changed the way everyone has been acting and how they have been affected by schizophrenia in the family. The third major use of personification used by the poet is in the lines 12-15 in which the house begins to be torn apart:
The lines were drawn, borders established,
some rooms declared their loyalties
keeping to themselves, keeping out of the other.
The house divided against itself. (Stevens 673)
In these lines the house begins to become two different things much like a person with schizophrenia would. It shows how the house has split personalities. This adds to the poem over all by giving the reader an insight of the problems that come with a person with schizophrenia. It also can show how the family its self could be tearing apart because of the illness. Another important part in the poem is towards to the end when it talks about the final destruction of the house:
Seeing cracking paint, broken windows,
the front door banging in the wind,
the roof tiles flying off, one by one,
the neighbors said it was a mad house. (Stevens 673)
These lines show how the house has deteriorated over time. It symbolizes how schizophrenia can really take a toll on a person after a long time. It makes it seem like that person isn’t the same anymore. This use of symbolism was important to the poem because it gives a very good insight to the person with schizophrenia. Another important part of the poem that uses symbolism is in the lines 5-9:
Certain doors were locked at night,
feet stood for hours outside them,
dishes were left unwashed, the cloth
disappeared under a hardened crust (Stevens 673)
This part in the poem is about how the house is no longer getting cleaned. This symbolizes how people with schizophrenia no longer can do everyday tasks like cleaning. It also is about how the people have to lock the doors at night to keep the person with schizophrenia cant wander. This contributes to the poem by putting you in their shoes and shows what life is like and how it can never go back to being normal.
To conclude personification and symbolism are the most important poetic elements to “Schizophrenia” because they are used to describe how the house and the family can never be the same after the effects of schizophrenia and how the house personifies and symbolizes a family and the person with schizophrenia. Personification was used to make the reader go through the stages of schizophrenia along with the house. And Symbolism was used to give helpful insight to people with schizophrenia. Personification makes it possible to turn a description of a house into a poem about schizophrenia. It is poetic elements like personification and symbolism that give a meaning to poems and make them universal.
Cite this Poetry and Schizophrenia
Poetry and Schizophrenia. (2017, Feb 12). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/poetry-and-schizophrenia/