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Compare 'The Homecoming' and 'The Workbox' by Thomas Hardy.

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Introduction

Angela Westgarth Pre 1914 Poetry The two poems I have chosen to compare are, 'The Homecoming' and 'The Workbox' by Thomas Hardy. In the poem 'The Homecoming,' a newly married couple arrive home for the first time. The young bride is unhappy already in the marriage though the husband seems quite happy. In 'The Workbox,' however, it is not a new marriage and we see the husband giving a workbox he has made to his wife and the story behind it. There are many different themes and attitudes in the two poems and they are very closely linked, sharing some of the same ideas. Thomas Hardy uses different poetic techniques in both to express his ideas and the attitudes towards women in the early 20th century. We see a similar attitude to women in both poems. Men seem to dominate the relationship and take control as shown in 'The Homecoming,' as the husband is looking after the wife though ordering her to things such as he says, 'don't ye rub your eyes so red,' 'sit ye by the fire,' 'keep your little thumb out of your mouth,' 'don't ye gnaw your handkerchief,' and 'don't ye tap your foot.' ...read more.

Middle

In the poem, 'The Homecoming' the new wife describes to her husband all the things she doesn't like about his house when she says, 'a floor o' wretched stone, and nasty pewter platters, horrid forks of steel and bone, and a monstrous crock in chimney.' This shows childishness on the girl's behalf, possibly showing that all her life she has been treated like a lesser member of society, which is shown as an attitude towards women in the early 20th century. An attitude to marriage was that a girl's father looks after her until she is married, then her husband takes up that job, which is shown in 'The Homecoming' when her husband says to his wife, 'I'll sing to 'ee a pretty song,' which is extremely patronising. Also in 'The Homecoming' the way the sentences that the husband speaks are constructed makes it more patronising, such as 'but you'll be getting older, like us all, ere very long.' This sounds more patronising as the 'like us all' makes it seem he is teaching her something she doesn't know, and suggesting she is stupid as it is an obvious thing to point out. ...read more.

Conclusion

they were for life and divorce was not really an option, which is shown because of the suggestion of an affair in 'The Workbox,' it is implies that the wife could possibly have been having an affair with 'John Wayward,' as at the end it says, 'as if she had known not only John, but known of what he died.' In 'The Homecoming' it suggests that the marriage between the two will have to last as the husband says to her, 'ye'll soon forget to sock and sigh for dear daddee.' The two poems are in ballad form which means that they go straight into the conversation and story straight away which leaves some of the small pieces up to our imagination, which is effective in putting Thomas Hardy's ideas across to us. Ballads often have dramatic storylines which fits with these poems. In 'The Homecoming' there are refrains which are describing a storm outside of the house which is ironic as there is also a storm going on inside the house; this adds greatly to the creation of a horrible image and increases the tension in the house. ...read more.

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