The Ruined Maid by Thomas Hardy and Cousin Kate by Christina Rosetti Essay

The Ruined Maid by Thomas Hardy and Cousin Kate by Christina Rosetti Essay

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The Ruined Maid by Thomas Hardy and Cousin Kate by Christina Rosetti

The poems that I studied are 'The Ruined Maid' by Thomas Hardy and
'Cousin Kate' by Christina Rosetti. 'The Ruined Maid' was published in
1901, and 'Cousin Kate' in 1879. These poems were both written in
Victorian times, and they both reflect the attitudes towards women at
the time. At the beginning of the Victorian period women's powers were
extremely limited; they could not control their own money and were
very much under the control of men. Among the few respectable jobs
available to women were teaching and taking in embroidery, but these
were poorly paid. The attitude towards women at this time was
extremely patronizing. Women had not yet been given suffrage: As they
could not vote, they had little power and little choice. In the light
of these attitudes the poems will be analysed to show how they reflect
the Victorian women of the time.

The poem 'The Ruined Maid' is about a woman who used to be a country
maiden, who was 'tired of digging potatoes and spudding up docks', so
has become a prostitute. This poem satirizes the Victorian view of
prostitutes as doomed and ruined women, and suggests that they may in
fact be happy and refined. 'Melia, 'The Ruined Maid' in the poem, has
met an old friend 'in town' and now that she has become ruined she
seems to be far better off than she was before. 'Melia left her home
'in tatters, without shoes or socks' and now she has 'gay bracelets
and bright feathers'. Since her ruin 'Melia has also improved her
language. "At home in the barton you said 'thee' and 'thou' and 'thik
oon' and 'theäs oon' and 't'other'; but now your ...

... middle of paper ...

... in society. This tone is conveyed by the use of
positive language such as, my 'dear', wearing 'fair garments', such
'prosperity', she has 'gay bracelets' and 'a delicate cheek' and is
'pretty lively' now that she is ruined. In 'Cousin Kate', Kate has all
of the material things that 'The Ruined Maid' wants, but in 'The
Ruined Maid', 'Melia has all of the material things that the country
maiden wants.

The poem that best represents the women of the time is 'Cousin Kate'
which, coincidentally, is written by a woman. Although Thomas Hardy is
more understanding and respectful towards women in his novels, this
poem, 'The Ruined Maid', displays a totally different attitude towards
Victorian women.

Of the two poems I prefer 'Cousin Kate' because it is a more typical
and realistic portrayal of the life of a ruined maid.

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