Essay Example on Soap is a poem in the form of a social satire









Soap is a poem in the form of a social satire written by Nissim Ezekiel which focuses on the story of a middle class local Indian s encounter with a shopkeeper in his journey to buy branded soap Soap follows a variety of interlinked themes such as Class Struggle Appearances versus Reality Language War Emotion Versus Reason and Aspiration Versus Reality It formulates principles of life However adaptability with the time and adjustment with the situation is the central theme of the poem Ezekiel effectively explores the superiority of the english language and its link with the concept of colonial cringe and Indian Identity in the post colonial country by using the structure of free verse and ane vcdotal tone throughout the poem Its primary context was to mock the mindsets of those who try to gain societal acceptance by making false assumptions about their own skills in English Soap follows the structure of a free verse poem as it doesn t have a fixed number of stanzas nor does it have a fixed rhyme scheme This structure works in favour of the purpose of the poem as it complements the grammatically incorrect english thus making the reality visibly distinguishable from that of the poet s claim of being able to speak good English The prevalent use of enjambment also adds on to the imagery as it induces the sensation of anger and frustration 

Along with this the use of the caesura in the middle of the poem instigates visuals of a breath being taken thus making it seem more realistic The frustration of the poet is also visible in the text as in the climax of the poem the argument is written in capital letters thereby engendering the visual and auditory imagery of a chaotic fight taking place The purpose of the poem is to expose the colonial cringe experienced by post colonial countries This poem was written during the time period of the late twentieth century when India was beginning to transit to branded products The prestige that these products have amongst the Indian society is explored through the poem in which the brand soap is metaphorical of a higher social status The poem starts off with the poet expressing his frustration towards people not having manners The claim of people not having manners places the poet on a higher pedestal as it segregates the people into one majority and the poet into a minority of superiors He then proceeds to explain his journey to buy well known brand soap in order to back his claim up This thereby widens the segregation by further placing the poet on an even higher pedestal as brand is a concept that is related to the higher social status His need to be perceived as a higher social status man is heightened when he claims that his Hindi is not so good as his English However the reality is a stark contrast to his claim as it is evident by the language tense and punctuation used in the stanzas that he is clearly not fluent in English this creates the humorous aspect of the poem

As the poem proceeds it is evident that his aspiration is indeed different from the truth In reality he is proven to be just like the shopkeeper as he starts shouting at the shopkeeper and forgets about his manner thus adding more fuel to the fiery argument He also claimed that he knew something was vulgar to say yet said it either way This proves that he left his manners and politeness behind and turned into the majority of the Indian society However when a crowd starts forming around the shopkeeper and the poet he starts placing a mask on his true self and goes back to trying to be his aspiration in order to fulfil his desire of being perceived as a man from a higher social status It is this moment that he realises that the man he is arguing with is also much bigger than him Thus when he realises that his chances of winning this argument are slim he gives up and backs off He further justifies his actions by converting into his polite self and stating that it s OK as he is not caring so much for a small defect in well known brand soap The humour of this poem is once again brought out by this statement as his entire argument was on the small defect in the well known brand soap To conclude Nissim Ezekiel is able to explore the superiority of the English language and its link between the desires of a local Indian man who represents a majority of the Indian society His use of humour further helps him delve into concepts such as colonial cringe in post colonial countries Overall he is successful in using the concept of irony in portraying the struggles of a local middle class Indian man

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