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Comparison of Cousin Kate and The Seduction

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An essay to compare and contrast the different views of love presented in 'Cousin Kate' (Christina Rossetti) and 'The Seduction' (Eileen McAuley) In this essay I am going to compare the poems 'Cousin Kate' and 'The Seduction'. They both have a similar subject, love, and the damage and pain it can cause. Both poems talk about the different attitudes men and women have concerning love; the physical side of love is very important but sought after mainly by men, unlike the woman in each poem, who are easily led and focus on the emotional side. The poems were written around a century apart but still share some of the same views, however the views on the physical aspects of love are different as in 'The Seduction' it is more obvious and shameless due to society's attitude as it had matured and sex had become more acceptable. The importance of the physical aspects of love can be seen simply from the title; seduction is the act of enticing someone into performing a sexual favour. 'Cousin Kate' was written at a time when sex outside of marriage was strictly forbidden and in doing so the narrator becomes exorcized from society this is shown with 'Call me an outcast thing'. 'The Seduction' " is written in a 3rd person narrative which contrasts with "Cousin Kate" as in "The Seduction" we get an overview of the situation of the poem. ...read more.


Either way it makes it seem as if the narrator is getting her revenge and has finally got the upper hand. McAuley's poem also explores the theme of motherhood which is intertwined with the theme of public opinion and how the antagonist would want anything else in life than to be pregnant. During the second section of the poem where she realises she is pregnant and reflects on her long lost innocence, the imagery of her ripping up her magazines and throwing the shoes she wore that fateful night; symbolises the anger and disappointment that destroyed her purity. In the line: "And on the day she broke the heels of her high white shoes (as she flung them at the wall) And realised that she was...cheated by the promise of it all". This indicates that she feels betrayed and fooled by all the stories and the security that was promised to her by the 'glitzy fashion features and stories of romance' and hates them for leading her into a false sense of security. On the other hand, Rossetti's "Cousin Kate" expresses the feeling of complete betrayal of the cottage maiden. The poem is written in the first person i.e. from the point of view of the cottage maid which allows her to express a number of feelings. The mood of the poem is firstly regret, this is demonstrated in the line: "His playing and his love, he wore me like ...read more.


The two poems also differ in length, in that "Cousin Kate" is much shorter than "The Seduction" and has an overall of six stanzas. There is definite even rhyming scheme and the pace is almost like a limerick. This works because the poem is written in the narrative, it tells a story. The tone at the beginning is regretful yet as the poem continues it revolves to triumph as she accepts her mistake and replaces her remorse with pride. In the line "My fair haired son, my shame, my pride" this oxymoron shows the duplicity and complexity of the situation however, we can deduce that she although her situation is not condoned by society at the time, she has accepted it and actually sees her son as more of a blessing. In conclusion we can see that although written approximately a century apart the similar topic produces similar results and reactions from the societies at the times. The poems both show that the main characters react differently to their situation,the antagonist in 'Cousin Kate' is proud of her child whereas the female main character of 'The Seduction' is devastated at the fact she is pregnant. This contradicts the beliefs of the times of each poem as in 'The Seduction' although teen and unwanted pregnancy wasn't encouraged it was much more undesirable and unacceptable at the time 'Cousin Kate' was written. It is also ironic that women were the individuals who took the punishment for their actions when in fact the male characters were just as responsible if not more. ...read more.

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