Tag Archives: fame

Taylor Swift’s Evermore as Amalgamation: Dorthea Analysis

26 Dec

Who is Dorothea?  Firstly, remember each song on the album is an amalgamation.  Taylor has blended several people in each song.  So I’m pretty sure Dorothea is representative of a person Taylor knows in real life.  And from the sound of this song, it seems like during high school, in TN.  But I know some historical figure or story is probably also mixed in so I found some possible candidates online:

Lesbian of the Day, Dorthea from fire emblem 3 houses.  I saw this line in a search, and as far as I can deduce, Fire Emblem is a video game?  I didn’t get into it that much b/c I am disinterested in gaming.  But of interest,  I noticed that the female version of Byleth can romance other female characters like Edelgard and Dorothea.

Of even more interest to me was a slang term on Wikipedia.  In gay slang, a “friend of Dorothy” (FOD) is a gay man and more broadly, any LGBTQ person.  Which is kind of exactly what this song is talking about!

Thirdly I found a piece of media, that had connections to lyrics in Evermore:

Rebecca Shoptaw is at the helm of Middlemarch, but she creates LGBTQ+ short films on YouTube.  Many of her films have been featured at film festivals such as the North Carolina Gay and Lesbian Film Festival and the MiFo LGBT Festival.  Shoptaw is known for putting queer narratives on screen [and this] has translated to “Middlemarch: The Series,” where several of the characters are LGBTQ+ and gender-bent (http://fourteeneastmag.com/index.php/2017/08/06/middlemarch-the-series/).

One character in Middlemarch is, Dorothea stubborn and strong-willed, going against common advice to wed Casaubon, a much older man. Her marriage to him is driven by her desire to be taught by him, and she devotes herself to him entirely. Unfortunately, Casaubon doesn’t trust her unmitigated devotion.  She feels betrayed by his insinuation that she was unfaithful. In response, Dorothea refuses to finish Casaubon’s work, an indication that she is returning to her independent, pre-marriage self (https://www.sparknotes.com/lit/middlemarch/character/dorothea-brooke/). 

It could be any of those, or it could be none.

[Verse 1]

Hey, Dorothea, do you ever stop and think about me?

When we were younger down in the park

Another time Taylor spoke of a park in song was “You Belong with Me” {Fearless):

Walk in the streets with you in your worn-out jeans/I can’t help thinking this is how it ought to be/Laughing on a park bench thinking to myself/Hey, isn’t this easy?

This song gets mentioned again later too.

Honey, making a lark of the misery

Often unplanned, a lark can happen when you are feeling adventurous. The act of trying something new like this can also be called larking. A lark is also a kind of songbird. Using lark to describe carefree fun might come from 1800s sailors’ slang, skylark, to describe playing in the rigging of the ship, up high like a lark.

You got shiny friends since you left town

These “shiny” friends could be new, rich, important, famous…  Whatever shiny means, it distinguishes these friends from the small town people.

A tiny screen’s the only place I see you now

And I got nothing but well wishes for ya

Taylor indicates there has been a split between them, they don’t see each other on park benches anymore, but Taylor doesn’t harbor any ill-will about it.  It’s another song that tells a detailed story, without being straightforward about who the subjects of the song are..  Someone in Tupelo?  An old friend?  It doesn’t seem to be about Karlie, but there are some similarities in the way Taylor describes Dorthea, and in how she regards her.. 

[Pre-Chorus]

Ooh, this place is the same as it ever was

Ooh, but you won’t like it that way

The subject of the song is restless, she longs for more than a small town life.

[Chorus]

It’s never too late to come back to my side

The stars in your eyes shined brighter in Tupelo

“Stars in your eyes.”  I think Taylor uses this line several times on this album to convey someone thirsty for fame or money or status.  And I think that’s why a song about an old relationship pops up here.  This girl’s hunger to get out of town and be famous, makes Taylor think of Karlie, who is always chasing a bigger, greater life–more fame, more money.

And if you’re ever tired of bеing known for who you know

You know that you’ll always know me, Dorothea (Uh-uh)

Dorothea (Ah-ah)

Again, Taylor emphasizes that if Dorothea wants to resume a more down to Earth existence again, Taylor is open to being there for her.  Taylor is not mad at Dorthea chasing something bigger (and maybe Taylor is conveying she’s not mad at Karlie for doing that same thing?).

[Post-Chorus]

Ooh, you’rе a queen sellin’ dreams, sellin’ makeup and magazines

Ooh, from you, I’d buy anything

Perhaps like a model?  A real life supermodel?  Who else has makeup campaigns and owns and poses in magazines?  Karlie has been called a Capitalist Queen.

[Verse 2]

Hey, Dorothea, do you ever stop and think about me?

When it was calmer, skipping the prom just to piss off your mom and her pageant schemes

This line is about rebelling against norms.  Dorothea, skipped a very traditional high school milestone.  She also didn’t want to conform to a feminine standard by participating in pageants.

And damn, Dorothea, they all wanna be ya

Taylor is still jealous of everyone wanting her subject.  Just like in “Gorgeous,” and similar to the sentiment of “Gold Rush.”  Both songs seem to be about how Taylor thinks Karlie is beautiful and doesn’t like to think about all the other people that want Karlie.  It’s a (gay) pattern that started in her home town with Dorothea.

But are you still the same soul I met under the bleachers? Well

This question bleeds over to the pre-chorus:

[Pre-Chorus]

Ooh, I guess I’ll never know

Here’s where “You Belong with Me” comes back into play:

She’s Cheer Captain, and I’m on the bleachers/Dreaming about the day when you wake up and find/That what you’re looking for has been here the whole time

Ooh, and you’ll go on with the show

Taylor can’t decide if Dorothea is still the same person she knew before she was known for the wealthy/famous people she hangs around.  This “You’ll go on with the show” line insinuates Dorothea is putting on a front, living a lie, acting fake to keep up appearances, and hold on to this new, more recognized life.  Remind you of anyone?!

[Chorus]

But it’s never too late to come back to my side

The stars in your eyes shined brighter in Tupelo

Honestly, I think Taylor used a random MS town just to rhyme nicely to “who you know.”

And if you’re ever tired of being known for who you know

You know, you’ll always know me, Dorothea (Uh-uh)

Dorothea (Ah-ah)

This isn’t an angry verse.  Taylor hopes this person might get tired to living off her associations with wealthy/famous friends and offers to be there after Dorothea (or whoever is represented by Dorothea–Karlie?) gets tired of fronting.

[Outro]

Ooh, ooh

Ooh-woo-ooh-ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh

Ooh, ooh

Ooh-woo-ooh-ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh-ooh

Dorothea (Ah-ah-ah)

Ah-ah

Ooh