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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Poetry and prose of P. K. Page : A study in conflict of opposites Farrugia, Jill I. Toll


Patricia K. Page's prose and poetry exhibit a dynamic creative tension resulting from the conflict of opposites in theme and imagery patterns and in the poet's attitude and perception of her subjects. The concept of separateness results from the thematic opposition of forces of solitude and multitude which focus on the despair of the isolated individual unable to emerge from his 'frozen' cave-like existence and to attain a community of shared feeling. Highly developed black-white dichotomy of images reinforces the conflict of obsessive self-love and pity with the universal need for self-awareness. Some of the poet's subjects succeed in this human search for truth, beauty, and self-fulfillment. Many, however, succumb to loneliness and paranoic isolation. The basic conflict is seen through surface-depth alternations of imagery, the phases of the Rebirth archetypal pattern of transition from terrestrial to aquatic form. The conflict of opposites of isolation and involvement in her early work emphasizes the strength of the pull towards confinement of the self. Then, as Page progresses in objective perception of her individuals, there is a loosening of the force of isolation and a gradual emergence of the individual from solitude into multitude. The conflict of opposites of restraint against freedom grows out of the basic juxtaposition of forces. Self-isolation and the vulnerability of innocence are linked as states of unawareness. Children, social classes and adult individuals are portrayed as victims of indifferent constraining authority, social barriers, and war. Page's Marxian love of humanity dissolves into a Freudian interpretation of communal existence as an escape from the fears of solitude. The poet's presentation of an active social consciousness is a continuance of the contra-positioning of freedom and restrain operating on and within individuals. In Page's work, organic imagery is suggestive of the powers of vitality and the life force - of multitude, universality, and personal freedom. Stagnation, inertia, isolation, and self-love are visualized by images of metal, stone or rock. This metal-flower contraposition evolves into archetypal antipathies of Paradise and Hades. The descent from sunlit gardens above to the dark caverns below takes the form of Freud's Nirvana principle or the first phase of the Rebirth cycle. And the renewal of vitality, the modulation from stone into flower marks the final ascent stage of Rebirth. The pattern of Rebirth related to man's rituals has symbolic meaning for Page's work. The goal of the poet is to remove the "filter of subjectivity" placed over reality and to realize the potential of being reborn into awareness. Ararat becomes a symbol of the power of regeneration and of the unity of all life. P. K. Page presents conflict of opposites in themes and imagery. Yet her primary concern remains that the need for communal experience is greater than the negative desire for self-isolation from reality; that love is more sustaining than pity; that freedom is preferable to indifferent authority; that the search for beauty and truth must overcome fear and horror in the lives of individuals.

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