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Compare and contrast the two poems "Cousin Kate" by Christina Rossetti and "The Seduction" by Eileen McAuley

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Introduction

Compare and contrast the two poems "Cousin Kate" by Christina Rossetti and "The Seduction" by Eileen McAuley "The Seduction" and "Cousin Kate" were written a century apart, but both explore the theme of false love. "Cousin Kate" is about a cottage maiden who is 'lured' by the great lord and falls pregnant. She loves the lord, but he does not love her. In "The Seduction", a teenage girl attends a party, gets very drunk and believes she is in love with the male in this poem, but it is really the influence of the alcohol making her think this. "Cousin Kate" was set in the nineteenth century and "The Seduction" was set in the twentieth; the difference in time is made clear in each poem. Firstly with the language used; "Cousin Kate" was written in correct, formal English, and "The Seduction" was written in everyday language. During the nineteenth century, becoming pregnant before marriage would have been frowned upon because it would have been thought that the woman should provide a family and be a mother, whilst the male went out to work to earn a living. While in the twentieth century, it was more common to become pregnant before marriage or at a young age, though people still did not think it was right. In both poems, it tells us about the neighbours of the two main characters and how they did not agree with them becoming pregnant. In the nineteenth century, if you were an unmarried mother, you would be thought to be living a 'life of sin', and were condemned and frowned upon by everyone. In the twentieth century it was not thought to be as bad as in the nineteenth, but people would still look at you and whisper as it says in the poem "Than to have the neighbours whisper that 'you always looked the type." Both male figures seem to have power over the females. ...read more.

Middle

The main characters in each poem both feel self-pity and betrayed. Although neither feel betrayed by the one they fell in love with, which says to us as the reader that even though they have been rejected they still have feelings towards them. In "The Seduction", the teenage girls self-pity is shown when the writer says "For where, now, was the summer of her sixteenth year?" which shows that she can no longer have a normal teenage life as she will now have a baby to care for. These feelings are shown again later on in the poem where it says "But, then again, better to be smoking scented drugs Or festering, invisibly unemployed. Better to destroy your life in modern man-made ways Than to fall into this despicable, feminine void." This tells the reader the girl feels she has destroyed her life in the worst way possible. She feels betrayed not by the boy she fell in love with, but the stories in magazines she has read. She feels they have lied to her by telling her about how her life would be in her sixteenth year, "Full of glitzy fashion features, and stories of romance" When this has not come true for her, she feels "Cheated by the promise of it all." The cottage maiden in 'Cousin Kate' feels betrayed by her cousin. It tells us in the fifth stanza how the cottage maiden feels Kate should have acted, it says "If he had fooled not me but you, If you stood where I stand, He'd not have won me with his love Nor bought me with his land;". The maiden, just like the girl in 'The Seduction' is extremely self-pitying. The emotive language used throughout the poem shows this. The words such as 'howl' and 'moan' are used to describe what the maiden is doing; to be acting like this she must feel miserable. ...read more.

Conclusion

The differences between the lives the two females lead is quite different because the cottage maiden's life is filled by working in the fields all day, everyday, whereas the teenage girl's life is easier, but still complex as she is a teenager living in the twentieth century with the worries of exams, friends and boyfriends. I think there are a few similarities in the males in each poem such as the way they both lead the girl on so they can get their kicks and they both do not get emotionally involved with the females. The differences would be how they lead each girl on. The male in 'Cousin Kate' lead her on by complimenting her and using his charm to win her over, whereas in 'The Seduction' the boy used alcohol to get what he wanted. I would prefer to live in the twentieth century because it would have been much easier as girls did not have to work in the fields like in the nineteenth; also, girls were treated as equals in the twentieth century, whereas in the nineteenth they were made to stay at home and look after their children if they had any. In my opinion, 'The Seduction' is the better poem as I feel it is easier for teenagers in this century to relate to, as it is more like these days than the nineteenth century would have been. I think the way it is written in everyday language makes it a lot easier to understand than 'Cousin Kate', because that was written in formal English. The two writers are very different in the way they have each written in a different person. In 'Cousin Kate' the writer has written in the first person, making it somewhat easier to relate to the main character, but in 'The Seduction' the writer has written in the third person, and the poem comes off as more of a short story than a poem, which to me, makes it easier to read. ...read more.

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