Introduction & Overview of Reactionary Essay on Applied Science

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Reactionary Essay on Applied Science Summary & Study Guide Description

Reactionary Essay on Applied Science Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains For Further Study on Reactionary Essay on Applied Science by Phyllis McGinley.

"Reactionary Essay on Applied Science," with its blend of light domestic humor and social satire, is characteristic of much of McGinley's best poetry. First published in the New Yorker in 1951, it was included that same year in A Short Walk from the Station, as well as in Times Three, the 1961 Pulitzer Prize-winning volume of poetry which spanned three decades of her work. Many of McGinley's poems were based on her experiences as a suburban housewife and mother. She used this perspective, one frequently scorned by more serious writers, to comment on the ironies she found in the world around her. In this poem, she presents a "reactionary" view of the world of inventions. The poem satirically compares several minor discoveries which have practical importance in the speaker's life, such as the safety match, paper towels, and window screens, with highly praised inventions and inventors such as the Wright Brothers with their airplane and Eli Whitney and his cotton gin.

Like most writers of light verse, McGinley uses both complex rhythm and rhyme with technical virtuosity. Her language is clever and witty; in fact, she is sometimes compared to Dorothy Parker for her sophisticated use of humor. However, McGinley never employs Parker's caustic, at times bitter, overtones. Underlying even her most serious social criticism is an optimistic thread.

McGinley's work is accessible to a large and varied audience because her subjects and themes revolve around ordinary domestic life. In a 1965 interview in Time magazine, McGinley noted , "At a time when poetry has become the property of the universities and not the common people, I have a vast number of people who have become my readers. I have kept the door open and perhaps led them to greater poetry."

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Reactionary Essay on Applied Science from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.