Female Oppression In Society With Harper's A Double Standard

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Reflecting on Female Oppression in Society with Harper’s “A Double Standard”
As insinuated through her poem’s title, “A Double Standard,” Frances Harper examines a double standard imposed by societal norms during the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as the different effects this standard foisted upon those of different genders. Harper’s poem is narrated by a woman who has been derided by society for her involvement in a sexual scandal, all while her male counterpart experiences no repercussions. By describing how her situation involving the scandal advances, delineating the backlash she receives for her participation, and reflecting on the ludicrously hypocritical nature of the situation, the speaker discloses the lack of control women had over their lives, and allows for the reader to ponder the inequity of female oppression at the turn of the 19th century.
Harper begins the poem by detailing the start of the speaker’s relationship with a man, developing it through the use of metaphor and concrete diction. From the first few lines of the poem, the reader learns that the relationship was destined to be futile through Harper’s use of metaphor: “If when standing all alone/ I cried for bread a careless world/ pressed …show more content…

As she does this she makes some new realizations regarding the situations outcome in the grand scheme of life. Throughout the entire poem, Harper begins multiple stanzas with some variation of the phrase “Can you blame me that…”. In each of these lines, the speaker is posing the question of whose fault the scandal was to an unknown audience. However, in the eight stanzas that begin with the variations of this question, the speaker only questions the man’s role in the situation once. Her repetition of the word ‘me’ in these stanzas indicates that she was immediately

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how the diction used here paints the picture of a beatific couple without any visible problems, making the shift in tone in the next stanza rather jarring.
  • Analyzes how the speaker's tone shifts in the remaining stanzas of the poem. she realizes that god will punish fairly, as he doesn't see gender when it comes to crime.
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