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Analytical Essay for the Poem Mafioso

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During the early nineteenth century many Italian immigrates came to America to pursue a new prosperous life with endless opportunities. However, Italians were treated as second class citizens and victims of harsh forms of prejudice and stereotypes. In the poem "Mafioso" by Sandra Gilbert, a small window into the lives of the early Sicilian immigrates is revealed; by expressing feelings of inferiority to Americans, humbled beginnings, and the makings of a hopeless criminal.

Initially," Mafioso" appeared to be a classic depiction of the migrant Italian mobster. However, after a closer review, an underlining theme of superiority began to emerge. In the opening stanza the narrator repeats the stereotype of Italians, who are often represented by food and the mafia. "Frank Costello eating spaghetti in a cell at San Quentin" (1). The mood for the poem is shame and sadness, this is determined when the narrator writes, "are you my uncles, my only uncles?" (6-7). As Gilbert connects to her ethnicity she feels a since of embarrassment and, quickly disconnect; this is proven by repeating with displeasure the possibility of such relation. Moreover, a since of superiority is suggested when the narrator notes "black scarves on your heads and cheap cigars/ and no English and a dozen children? (16-17). The narrator suggest the immigrants are mysterious and evil, perfuming a harsh scent of poverty; therefore unworthy of recognition, and require to cover themselves.

Detailed description establishes whom specifically the narrator is referring to, "dad uncles of the barren cliffs of Sicily" (9-10). Historically Sicily is known as an impoverished region of Italy. The mentioning of Sicily in the poem is of importance and, suggests the immigrants are of lesser class and without financial resources. In the next line, "was it only you that they transported in barrels" (11) Gilbert uses a metaphor to demonstrate the method of travel. The narrator's emphasis on the phrase "transported in barrels" conveys the immigrant's financial hierarchy on the boat. The immigrants were crammed to capacity in a hot windowless designated area, especially for them.

Finally, the narrator exposes the authentic reality of life in America as an Italian immigrant. "No carts were waiting, gallant with paint" (18). The city was not adorned with artwork nor, was anything giving to the immigrants upon arrival. Contrary to the warm inviting atmosphere the Italians envisioned, "only the evil eyes of a thousand buildings stared across at the echoing debarkation center" (20-21). Eager wealthy opportunist lingered around Ellis Island waiting for desperate men to recruit for cheap labor. "Only a half dozen Puritan millionaires stood on the wharf" (23). Business owners required long hours of endurance in hazardous conditions,



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