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Compare and contrast the views of marriage expressed in The Voice by Thomas Hardy and Marrysong by Dennis Scott.

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Introduction

Compare and contrast the views of marriage expressed in 'The Voice' by Thomas Hardy and 'Marrysong' by Dennis Scott. The writers of both poems use different techniques and tones to convey the idea of marriage in 'The Voice' and 'Marrysong'. The main theme of 'Marrysong' is the idea of Scott trying to make sense of his wife and her sudden changes of mood, and he uses metaphorical references to nature and landscape to indicate how trying to understand his wife is a rough, meandering journey - 'the map was never true' shows the unpredictability of his wife. The structure of the poem is also a reference to this journey - it is not separated into stanzas, and the use of enjambment and irregular iambic pentameter illustrates her constantly shifting mood. This is a contrast to the way Hardy separates 'The Voice' into four stanzas to show how his mindset changes as he attempts to turn the memory of his wife into reality. ...read more.

Middle

It begins with Hardy describing a happy memory, describing the day when he first saw his wife and she was a vision of beauty to him - 'When our day was fair... the original air-blue gown'. He imagines that the wind is the voice of his wife's ghost, calling to him, and the use of dactyl meter - 'woman much missed, how you call to me, call to me' - gives an echoing, unrealistic sound, indicating that Hardy knows that it is not really his wife talking to him, but he is trying to convince himself otherwise. The weakness of the image of his wife in the poem is evident - the use of feminine rhyming ('listlessness...wistlessness') and enjambment in the poem makes her a ghostly presence rather than a real one. The change in tone throughout the poem is due to the fading of Hardy's hope when his wife does not appear when he calls back to her - 'Let me view you, then'. ...read more.

Conclusion

The poem is full of regret as he realizes that he never appreciated her and now his chance to do so has gone. Both poets discuss and criticize the inconsistency of marriage. Scott does not understand the constant shift in his wife's mood, whereas Hardy's marriage was inconsistent in a way that involved the way he and his wife felt about each other. The poems share the theme of change, but the change moves in opposite directions - at the beginning of 'The Voice', Hardy reacts to his inability to accept his wife's death by convincing himself that she is talking to him, and as the poem progresses the realization that he will never see his wife again, and never will have the chance to appreciate her sets in, ending the poem on a melancholy note. In contrast, 'Marrysong' begins on a hopeless note as Scott realizes that even after years of trying he is unable to understand his wife. However, throughout the poem he also has a revelation, but in this case a positive one, that he enjoys the mystery of his wife and ...read more.

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