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Metaphor in The Author to Her Book

The Author to Her Book by Anne Bradstreet is a perfect representation of the author’s feelings towards her book following its publication and criticism for being an unfinished piece. Bradstreet uses the controlling metaphor in the poem to illustrate an author’s dissatisfaction with her book. In essence, she uses the leading metaphor entailing Bradstreet and her book to the association of a caring mother and her kid so as to demonstrate the complicated attitude of the author, which changes in the entire process of the work. The controlling metaphor represents the poem’s part that expresses the faults characterizing her book, which shows the author’s conflicting tone. Thus, Bradstreet uses metaphor in the poem to clearly communicate her emotions towards the publication of her works.

While Bradstreet applies extended metaphor in the poem, The Author to Her Book to stress her displeasure with the works, she demonstrates an unwillingness to abandon her original piece. In the first line, Bradstreet offers the overall description regarding her view of her own creation. For instance, she says “ill-formed offspring” to illustrate that the book is her own making and that it is flawed (Bradstreet 1). Additionally, the author expresses her feeling of embarrassment concerning the publication of her private pieces without her approval. Bradstreet feels disappointed that the works were published before they were corrected and edited. From line six to nine, the author compares the humiliation from her unperfected work to the shame that a parent experiences because of their irritable child. Moreover, Bradstreet shows her intention to delete errors in line 10 through 14 of the poem. However, she notices that it is impossible to erase errors since the poem is already printed. Line 9 through 10 demonstrates that Bradstreet is not the finest mother (Shmoop 1). The author attempts to renounce the work since it is “irksome”, meaning that the book is irritating and frustrating.

In The Author to Her Book, Bradstreet demonstrates her shame, which is manifested throughout the poem. She struggles with the aspect of her piece’s publication before perfection. In her skillful usage of extended metaphor, the author piles a complex series of parallels entailing parent and author as well as book and child, which are both creator to creation associations. As a result, the reader is emotionally connected to the author’s condition (eNotes 1). Furthermore, Bradstreet equates herself to an imperfect parent or mother through metaphor. In line 17 through 18, Bradstreet contends, “In better dress to trim thee was my mind, / But nought save homespun cloth I’th’ house I find” (Bradstreet 1). Bradstreet maintains that despite her intentions to perfect the text, she could only manage to “dress it” using homely cloth. Metaphorically, the concept implies that Bradstreet uses what is at his disposal while she recognizes that the flaws in the texts were as result of homeliness as well as her individual brain shortfalls. Overall, it can be said that the “child”/texts are flawed because of the defective mind of the creator, who is Bradstreet in this case. Bradstreet instructs the “child” in the final lines. Generally, she maintains that the “child” only has a missing mother, which is the reason why she is unable to dress in a better cloth despite her desire.

Other metaphors exist within the extended metaphor. Bradstreet illustrates that she “washed” the book’s face to suggest that she attempted to enhance the content and appearance of the book. However, Bradstreet says “And rubbing off a spot still made a flaw” to mean that she committed other blunders in the process of correcting the errors in the book (Bradstreet 1). The metaphors to illustrate Bradstreet’s activities on the work are responsible for the personification of the book as a “child”. She also uses metaphor in the last line as sending the book out of the door implies that the book is released for publication. In conclusion, extended metaphor is used in The Author to Her Book to precisely demonstrate Bradstreet’s displeasure with her book, which is released while still imperfect.

Works Cited

Bradstreet, Anne. The Author to Her Book. 1978. Available at:

eNotes. What literary devices are most important in Anne Bradstreet’s poem, “The Author to Her Book”? 2011. Available at:

Shmoop. The Author to Her Book by Anne Bradstreet. 2019. Available at:

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