Summary and Analysis
Dorothy Parker’s 1916 poem “Parties: A Hymn of Hate” playfully lambastes the boorishness and false niceties of partygoers. Parker wrote “Parties” as part of a series of hate-themed poems on topics such as “Women,” “Men,” “Actors,” “Bores,” and “Books.” Like all of Parker’s hate poems, “Parties” begin with a pithy couplet— “I hate parties; / They bring out the worst in me”—and then, stanza by stanza, eviscerates the subject from all sides. In this sense, “Parties” is essentially an essay dressed as a poem. Like an essay, it conveys a singular argument, stating its thesis outright and providing a litany of evidence.
As a result, the poem’s style and structure is closer to prose than verse. Parker’s stanzas are free of all verse forms, and her line breaks recognize phrases and utterances over rhythms. The poem succeeds in capturing the cadences of speech, taking on the tone of a witty, disgruntled diatribe. To drive the point home, Parker concludes the poem with the same punchy couplet that begins it.
- The first stanza is an italicized couplet that lays out the poem’s argument and establishes its wittily withering tone.
- The second and third stanzas describe the “Novelty Affair,” a themed party in which the guests are invited to dress up. The speaker finds these costumes—“Old-Fashioned Girls” and “Hawaiian gentlemen”—predictable and passé. The speaker then excoriates the “clean, home games”: guessing numbers of seeds, threading needles, and naming flowers. When the hostess “says...
(The entire section is 665 words.)