Louise Gluck: Poems

A Prisoner to Her Sex: The Hauntings of the Female Genitalia in Louise Glück’s “Mock Orange” College

In Louise Glück’s poem, “Mock Orange” (Glück 1995) the female flesh interferes with the speaker’s search for a desired full presence or wholeness. Through her representation of the mock orange flower as the female genitalia, Glück attempts to transcend the speaker out of her own body to find a personal identity not established by gender. Through the speaker’s victimized demure and self-hatred towards her own feminine desire for companionship, Glück challenges the hostage-like expectations society holds for women. Although Glück makes great effort at transcendence for her characters into a new social identity, she creates the resonating theme throughout all her works that a woman will always be held prisoner to her sex.

“Mock Orange” is not the only poem that Glück writes that signifies the paralysis a woman faces because of her sex. Take for example her poem “The Chicago Train” (Glück 1995). The poem reads, “And they sat- as though paralysis preceding death had nailed them there. The track bent south. I saw her pulsing crotch… the lice rooted in that baby’s hair (“The Chicago” 4-8).” This self-hatred and offensive nature can be found throughout many of Glück’s poems including “Mock Orange”. It is clear that Glück feels revolted...

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