Some people feel nervous or unsure during the night time because the feeling of being alone in the dark can be scary to certain people. However, for others, the night time, when everything is silent, can be a welcomed break from the busyness of everyday life. William Carlos Williams contrasts a calming setting with disconnected streams of thought to convey the sense of inner-peace and serenity and subsequent disconcertion that the main character feels during the night-time in Dance Russe. Williams starts the poem by introducing the speaker's wife, daughter, and newborn baby. He makes it clear they are all asleep and the speaker is effectively alone in the house at the moment.
This sense of feeling completely alone can either be very calming or very disconcerting depending on who you are. For the speaker, it becomes clear it is the former. From the very first lines of the poem we are instantly introduced to the speaker as a family man essentially alone in his house while everyone else is asleep. We can assume he is happy with this change of pace. While everyone is asleep the responsibilities he his called upon to take on everyday are minimized. Thus, he knows he need not worry about being called upon for anything at this moment. From here, the speaker moves on to describe the way the sun is coming through the shades.
He uses metaphor and imagery through the explanation of the sun as a “flame-white disc in silken mists”. Then he continues by further describing the scene outside almost wistfully. This suggests he may have some desire to escape the house both figuratively and literally. Almost as abruptly as this description of the outdoors started, the speaker ends his depiction of the outdoors.
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Effectively cutting himself off mid thought, he returns to the hypothetical "if I” with which he started the poem. It seems as if he had to remind himself to stay inside the house mentally and physically. His description of the setting started to shift as his focus strayed from the house to his wanting out. From here the poem shifts to his description of his room and his mirror. The way he begins both this line and the first line of the poem tells a lot about his sense of individuality. Though previously mentioning his wife, he describes the north room as his. He removes himself from the rest of his family by identifying it in this way. While describing the way he dances naked in front of the mirror he emphasizes the word "grotesquely” with quotation marks. This implies someone, presumably his wife, has described this habit of his as such. While dancing in the mirror he would sing about his loneliness.
This connects back to the disconnect between his thoughts throughout this poem. He starts the poem by presenting us with information about three others in the house with him. Yet, he still says he is lonely. Perhaps the most interesting and revealing line in the poem, he then says “I am best so”. He openly admits his desire to be alone and recognizes he is able to be himself only when completely alone. He is content on his own while his family is asleep. After this very revealing admission from the speaker, he returns to the “if I” theme he has used throughout the poem. He continues to describe with vanity his admiration of all his various body parts.
This perhaps represents his full vulnerability in his state of complete nudity. In the next line he returns to his pattern of disconnected thoughts by returning to the description of the shades. Almost exactly like before, he cuts himself off mid-thought as his mind starts to drift to the outdoors again. He knows he must keep his thoughts and descriptions on his house only. There is a line break here as if he is gathering his thoughts after the misstep in his train of thought. The poem closes with him describing himself as the "happy genius of my own household”. He uses both I and my in this last line returning to that feeling of solidarity and loneliness even with the presence of his family within the house. This poem creates a vivid depiction of the disconnect between thoughts due to conflicting feelings about night-time while others are asleep.
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Main Character in the Night Time in Dance Russe by William Carlos Williams. (2022, Nov 10). Retrieved from https://phdessay.com/main-character-in-the-night-time-in-dance-russe-by-william-carlos-williams/
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