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Compare 'The Ruined Maid' by Thomas Hardy, and 'Cousin Kate' by Christina Rosetti.

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Introduction

'The Ruined Maid' by Thomas Hardy '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. ...read more.

Middle

In contrast, the poem 'Cousin Kate' is about a cottage maiden who is devastated by her ruin and is cast aside by society. She was ruined because a great Lord 'found her out' and 'lured her to his palace home' 'to lead a shameless shameful life' and then chose her 'Cousin Kate' and cast the narrator by. The cottage maiden becomes destitute but has a 'gift' that 'Cousin Kate' is not likely to get; a son. The narrator feels ashamed of her relationship with the Lord. She describes her life with him as 'shameless, shameful'. Looking back on her relationship I think she feels dirty and used because she says "so now I moan an unclean thing, who might have been a dove". The narrator is very proud of her son, despite becoming an outcast amongst her neighbours - although she feels quite the opposite way to 'Melia in 'The Ruined Maid' about her ruin. ...read more.

Conclusion

In contrast, the tone of 'The Ruined Maid' is light-hearted, although I feel that it should be more serious as it is about a female who has lost her respect 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. Anna C Davies 11 Du 1 ...read more.

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