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Both Tony Kytes and The Seduction deal with relationships between
young men and girls. Both tell of the ways in which the men manipulate
the girls, gaining what they want at the girls' expenses. They both
detail the insensitive treatment of the girls and explore the
attitudes towards sex, marriage and the opposite sex from both the
male and female point of views.
Tony Kytes is a humorous account of a young man called Tony and his
encounter with three prospective young women whilst driving his cart
back from the nearby market. The first is sly and worms her way into
Tony's affections. However his fiance Milly appears and Tony requests
Unity to hide under the tarpaulin in the back of the cart to avoid a
difficult confrontation. Milly arrives and climbs aboard the cart, yet
they have not travelled far before Tony spies another pretty girl,
namely Hannah Jolliver. This time he persuades Milly to hide in the
back of the cart and she too consents. Hannah requests a lift and
openly flirts with him, making Tony wonder about who he really wants
He notices his Father, who offers some good advice - that he should
marry the one girl who didn't ask for a lift (Milly), Tony immediately
disregards it. Meanwhile the horse has run off, tipping the cart over
and revealing all three girls, forcing Tony to make a quick decision.
He asks Hannah, who refuses him due to her father's presence. Unity is
asked next, but she refuses him, as she was only second choice. Tony
then requests Milly's hand in marriage, she accepts; they get married
The Seduction is a rather different account of yet another encounter
between a young man; this time only one female is involved. Set in
Tyneside in 1980's it describes a meeting between a young man and a
young girl at a party, and the ensuing aftermath. At the party the
girl is plied with alcohol, which makes her more and more relaxed,
till finally the man takes her to a favourite spot of his by the river
where he takes advantage of her alcohol-fuelled state.
When the girl realises she is three months pregnant she is devastated.
She realises that she can no longer be the innocent girl she was and
can no longer look forward to carefree summers with her friends. She
recognises that she will not get to experience teenage life in the
same way again and is mortified by this.
Tony Kytes is set in the 1800's in a rural Wessex farming community.
We know it is a farming community due to the references of " the
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ferrets in a bag under there, for rabbiting " confirms that the people
of the time rely more heavily on the land and would tend to eat more
natural food. But the following quote " 'twould be called poaching"
suggests that the countryside is not a free place to take what you
The country scene is a romantic setting. It is much more pleasant to
be looking " at the trees, and beasts, and birds and insects, and at
the ploughmen at work in the fields" than to be surrounded by " the
silver stream of traffic through the city the blind windows of the
tower blocks." as in the Seduction. The "bricks", "tower blocks" and
"windows" are all cold, harsh objects - like the poem, which shows a
cold, harsh reality; Tony Kytes uses soft and warm objects, such as
"rabbits" and talking about "what a fine day it is", which makes for a
more romantic and warmer piece of writing. However, the "brambles of
the hedge" could be taken to mean that there is a more unpleasant
element in Tony Kytes.
The transport in Tony Kytes is also more romantic than in the
Seduction, as they are "driving home in the wagon". This is because
they are surrounded by pretty countryside and there are no cars around
to create fumes and noise and pollution to deter form their enjoyment.
Also, each girl believes that they are alone with Tony, without
another person in sight. This allows them to behave in a way that
people in the Seduction cannot. They sit close to Tony and place
"their feet upon the foot-board" which is openly flirtatious for their
time. Whereas in the Seduction the "tower blocks" and surround them,
detracting from their privacy. The only mention of transport in the
Seduction is the vehicles that make up the "silver stream of traffic".
The young man leads the girl on foot, which can be romantic in its
way, but not in this case.
The clothing in the Seduction is more modern than in Tony Kytes. The
boy is dressed in a "leather jacket" and also caries "a bag", whereas
she wears "high white shoes". This contrast between the black of the
leather and the white of the shoes is reflected in the respective
personalities. He being the dark, evil one - the black one; she being
the pretty, innocent one - the white one.
The clothing of the period in Tony Kytes is mentioned in few quotes.
From the quote "O the petticoats, they went off and the breaches they
went on!" we can imagine that there was one set of attire for women
and another completely different set for the men. This is because this
quote was a part of an impolite song and therefore can be inferred
that the opposite is more normal - meaning that women were unlikely to
wear breaches, or any other sort of masculine attire for that matter.
Instead, women were more inclined to wear gowns or other dresses
("haul up the tails of her gown") with "stockings".
Hannah asks reproachfully at one point "Don't you see I have my bonnet
and jacket on?" and at another point Tony notices "a feather he knew
well - the feather in Milly's hat" this would indicate that women of
the period were more likely to wear some sort of head attire. The men
too also seem to wear hats and, when meeting women, Tony at least is
accustomed to "taking off his hat". This would imply that it was
socially expected of the men to remove their hats in the presence of
women. As not many males in this day and age would think about
removing their hats for a woman, this in turn implies that ladies
gained more respect from men than the women of today do.
The 1800's are a time when offspring are less likely to move far from
home and boys will often grow up to work alongside their fathers.
Hence the quote "He had been to market to do business for his father".
This shows a physical closeness between Tony and his father, but it
does not necessarily mean that he is mentally close with him. That
would explain why " of all the things that could have happened to wean
him from Milly there was nothing so powerful as his father's
The 1800's are also a period of less freedom for women. Social
expectations decree that they are not expected to sleep with anyone
until they have settled down with one man. Which is why Hannah
Jolliver's father asks her if " yer virtue is left to ' " meaning,
has she still got her virginity. Likewise, a man is not expected to be
seen alone with any woman different to the one he is currently seeing,
but Tony seems to ignore this as he travels back from the market with
three women - only one of which he should have been (Milly). As Tony's
father says "Don't go driving around the country with Jolliver's
daughter and making a scandal. I won't have such things done". But he
also thinks it's very forward of the girls to ask
Tony for a ride in his cart.
This is unlike the Seduction, where there is no mention whatsoever of
parents, and the young people have much more freedom. There seem to be
no restrictions of sex after marriage; indeed marriage is not
mentioned once in the poem. However, social expectations are still in
place. The girl realises that it is better " to fade away. Than to
have neighbours whisper that 'you always looked the type'." This
proves that the girl feels she is being judged as having fallen below
the social expectation.
The characters of the two young men are both different too. Tony is
depicted as "serious looking and unsmiling", which would seem to
indicate maturity. However a observation of "no more sign of a whisker
or beard on Tony Kytes face than on the palm of my hand" suggests
physical immaturity, and the further comment of "He used to sing
'Tailor's Breeches' with a religious manner indicates a blasphemous
nature and possible mental immaturity.
The boy in the Seduction is equally immature; although he smokes and
sniffs "shimmering, sweet paint thinner" he is really just a boy who
"should be at school". He appears as the stereotypical youth rebel,
complete with "leather jacket" and spitting habits. Which is quite
unlike the charming appearance of Tony Kytes.
The boy plies the girl with alcohol with the full intent of injuring
her. He audibly mutters "little slag", showing that, unlike Tony, he
has no real respect for the girl. He is also incredibly self-centred
and focuses the conversation on his interests: talking about
"football the Milk Cup, and the next McGuigan fight". This also shows
a lack of interest in the girl beyond sex.
This is quite unlike Tony, who doesn't mean any harm to any of the
three girls. When the cart tipped over, he made a point of "taking off
his hat out of respect to 'em". It also states that "he would have
kissed them all around", indicating again that he is indecisive and
also that he doesn't mean any injury to befall them. However he is
very easily swayed by the girls and with every new girl he begins to
wonder why he liked the girl before. This is backed up by the quote
"he couldn't for the life of him think why he had ever said a word
about marriage to Milly or Unity while Hannah Jolliver was in
question". This shows that although he was happy with Milly and Unity
before her, he cannot stick to any plan and is constantly living for
the moment - he is very fickle.
The girl in the seduction is dressed in white, signifying her
innocence. The white contrasts with the guy's black "leather jacket",
making her seem quite angelic. This can also be taken to mean that she
is a virgin - white and untouched - and that the boy is about to ruin
this purity for her.
Milly herself has a strong resemblance to the girl in the seduction,
in the way that they are both fooling themselves that they are wanted
by the respective boys and that they are the only ones the young men
are interested in. They seem to be able to hide from the truth rather
than face up to it.
She does not seem to be romantically attached to Tony and never
displays any strong emotions. Instead she talks about more mundane
things, such as their future house. From this it is clear that she
feels secure with Tony, and does not expect any competition; she
expects to marry him and consequently buy a house.
She appears to have no pride, unlike Unity. She takes Tony's offer of
marriage after he has already asked two girls before her in quick
succession. Unity refuses him after being asked second. She is a very
sly character and worms her way into Tony's affections by asking
leading questions and comparing herself to Milly.
In this way she is like Hannah, who also asks leading questions.
Hannah is very direct and leads Tony on by sitting close to him and
batting her eyes. However she has more pride than the other two, and
wont marry Tony even though he asked her first - she is too
"Wagon seemed to be empty but for the loose tarpaulin"
"Creep under the empty sacks just here in the front of the wagon"
"Crouched down just behind the seat"
"A sort of little screaming squeak under those sacks? Why, you've
been carrying corn, and there's mice in this wagon"
"'Tis the axle"
"Would you mind taking the reins a moment"
"The off wheels went up the bank, the wagon rose sideways till it was
quite on the edge upon the near axles"
"He reached the foot of the hill waiting for him at the top Unity
"Over the hedge and past the turning"
"Upper window of a house that stood beside the road"
"Coming to the corner where we turn round to drop down the hill to
"In the afternoon"
"'Tis almost Christmas"
"In dry weather"
"What a fine day it is for this time of year?"
"If it had been Milly, twould have been quite proper; but you and
Hannah Jolliver going about by yourselves-"