My Face By: Robert Benchley

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How did Benchley set the tone for this essay?

Benchley's ironic tone and sense of self-deprecation are immediately apparent. He admits at once to being fascinated by his "own personal appearance," not necessarily in a positive way, but "merely as an observer of natural phenomena."

What literary techniques does Benchley use to highlight his point of view?

a. Exaggeration b. He uses italics to make his point-"not...that I am pleased (italics) with (it), "something (italics) different," must have given off some visual impression." c. He plays on words, such as "stealing" a look at his face- "I don't suppose you really could call it stealing. It belongs to me after all."

Benchley's technique involves more than just exaggeration. Give two examples of human characteristics with which the reader can identify

a. the unnerving first sight of oneself getting up in the morning. b. catching sight of oneself in a store-window mirror. c. looking at photographs with friends and feigning interest in the pictures of others while really being mostly interested in those of oneself.

What does Benchley accomplish by comparing himself to Wimpy, Wallace Beery, Old Bill, Man-Mountain Dean, and a "Bulgarian peasant type?

He paints a comical, aesthetically derogatory picture of himself. each of these characters is an exaggerated caricature. Benchley mocks himself as he talks of his "masochistic craving to offend my own aesthetic sense."

What is your impression of Benchley?

The title suggests a vain, egocentric person. Yet, Benchley does not show one shred of vanity, since he compares himself only to very odd-looking caricatures. His presentation is totally humorous and entertaining. He gives the impression of an ironic, clever man who sees himself clearly.

What deeper insight can we gain about Benchley after reading this essay?

Like most people, Benchley us made up of paradoxical elements. He is fascinated by his appearance. He uses humorous exaggeration to develop his thesis and obsess about his appearance, but he has a positive sense of self and comfortable poking fun at himself.

What is significant about Bentley's ability to underrate himself and engage in self-mockery?

Everything is done in good humor. Benchley's outlook on the world does not seem to be damaged by his portrayal of his face. Only a psychologically stable, strong individual would engage in such self-effacing banter.

What is accomplished by italicizing "pleased" and "thing"?

Emphasizing the word please through the use of italics is what make the point funny, as the reader realizes that Benchley is far from pleased with his appearance, especially when he seems to feel hardly human, as he clarifies by his emphasis on the word something.

What does Benchley accomplish by citing the various resemblances?

He establishes very explicitly his own opinion of his face. In the first two paragraphs we guess that he is setting a humorous tome for the piece, but we can't be quite sure yet what he thinks of himself. By using these specific characters, each a caricature with exaggerated features, he clearly tells us what he thinks of his appearance.

What is the effect as Benchley states that he is frightened into returning to bed?

The amusing picture Benchley paints draws us into identifying with him, because most people who have caught an unflattering glimpse of themselves upon awakening may have a similar reaction.

Why does Benchley look for snapshots of himself?

The picture he paints of himself trying to act as if he is disinterested in the snapshots in which he appears, while somewhat dramatized for comic effect, rings very true to life. As with many people, he is most interested in himself, and in seeing himself as others see him.