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Hypocrisy in E.E. Cummings’ the Cambridge Ladies

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The Hypocrisy of Communal Identity in cummings' the Cambridge ladies  

E.E. Cummings’ [the Cambridge ladies who live in furnished souls] is an enigmatic, ironic and sarcastic poem which reveals the unreal, fraudulent lives that the Cambridge ladies live. The poetic speaker’s tone is filled with sarcasm and irony to show the contradiction between the Cambridge ladies’ actions and beliefs. This discriminating voice is used when speaking of the Cambridge ladies’ Christianity, their communal identity, and when speaking of their frivolous concerns. Depth and empathy, both of which the ladies lack, are juxtaposed against the women’s emptiness and indifference. Collectively, the Cambridge ladies share the inability to connect to their religion and to the exterior world that surrounds them. In addition, Cummings contrasts nature imagery against the material and socially based Cambridge Ladies. Because these ladies are well endowed and isolated from the outside world, they are not able to fully comprehend the reality of issues.

Through this comparing and contrasting, E.E. Cummings is able to show the superficial and fabricated world that the Cambridge ladies have created. Although these women claim to be strict Protestants, their unsympathetic behavior proves to be less than holy. The Cambridge ladies are not able to fully understand the harsh reality of a world that lies beyond their trifle lives. Because they have already been given everything they need in life without working for it, the women are content with their set ways and have “comfortable minds” ([the Cambridge] ln. 2). These women have never known anything other than luxury and happiness. Thus, the ladies have no reason to challenge their church’s or society’s customs....


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...ople who confine themselves to a limited sphere of knowledge and a confined group of peers. Rather than looking towards the outside world and into the unknown, these women commit themselves to spreading rumors, being “loyal” Christians, and being socially adept. By sharing a communal identity, they give up all individual freedoms. The Cambridge ladies forget to see and understand the individual beauties in life such as the moon. Everything they believe is internalized by their social doctrines; they leave no room for change or for new ideals. Therefore, they are unable to associate with the serenity of nature or with a world separate from themselves. Because they are assigned to a societal doctrine in which they have no control or say over, they become apathetic to its causes. They no longer concern themselves over problems and “do not care” about anything at all. 

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