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Comparison of 'Cousin Kate' and 'The Seduction'

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Introduction

Jen Pascoe 22nd January 2002 Comparison of 'Cousin Kate' and 'The Seduction' I will be comparing the poems 'Cousin Kate' by Christina Rosetti and 'The Seduction' by Eileen McAuley. After reading both of these poems I have found that there are many similarities but also many differences. 'The Seduction' and 'Cousin Kate' are both written in a narrative style and set in stanzas. 'Cousin Kate' is split up into six stanzas, each with eight lines. 'Cousin Kate' is in the form of a letter from the maid to Kate to explain how she feels. The first two stanzas talk about meeting the Lord and their relationship. The third and fourth stanzas talk about Kate breaking them up and Kate's relationship. Finally stanzas five and six talk about how the maid feels she is better off than Kate and how she has her son. The poem is split up in this way to give a sense of pace and rhythm. What happens to the girl is predictable and so the rhyming scheme reflects this. 'The Seduction' is split up into fifteen stanzas, 14 with 14 lines each and one with 8 lines. The 1st, 2nd, 6th, 7th and 8th stanzas talk about what happens after the party, at the Docks. This is fairly unorganised, representing how unorganised the girls feelings are and how she keeps looking back hoping to change the past. Stanzas 2, 3, and 4 talk about how they met at the party and what they talked about. Stanza 9 (the longest stanza) is about how the girl feels when she finds out she is pregnant. Stanzas 10, 11, 12 and 13 are where the girl is questioning herself about her future and in stanzas 14 and 15 she has decided that she would rather die than be seen pregnant. It is organised in this way in the later stages of the poem to split it up into understandable sections. ...read more.

Middle

This shows that the boy must be very scheming but also quite clever. "He swiftly contrived to kiss her" tells me that he must be quite devious as he "contrived" suggests that he had planned this all along. The lord from 'Cousin Kate' is also scheming and powerful. We learn that the boy in 'The Seduction' is not a very nice person. The line "he spat into the river" shows that he has no manners. He also tells the girl how he takes "sweet paint thinner" and his "dads magazines" down to the river when he should be at school. This tells me that he might be a dropout and doesn't have very much to look forward to in life. We also learn that the boy, like the lord, is very two faced. While the lord is with the maid he is still looking to replace her with someone he sees as better. While the boy was with the girl in 'The Seduction', "he muttered little slag". The boy has no respect for her, he doesn't care about her feelings, he just wants to make himself look good, again like the lord. However, the boy knows that what he's doing is wrong. The poem says he "fumbled in a bag" to give her the vodka. This proves that he is nervous, possibly because he knows that what he is doing is not the right thing to do. One difference between the boy and the lord is that the lord doesn't really have to try to impress the maid or Kate. He can just use his power and money. The boy in 'The Seduction', however, has to try to impress the girl. The poem tells us he is wearing a leather jacket; this could be to make him look older or more sophisticated. "He told her about football; Sammy Lee and Ian Rush" also suggests that the boy is showing off. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, the maid also feels quite proud because she has a son and Kate does not, she is smug. In 'The Seduction' the mood also changes from excitement to anger. She too is excited about her relationship with the man. She is angry because the man left her, instead of feeling proud or smug at the end of the poem, she is depressed. The tones of the two poems are very different. In 'Cousin Kate', the writer (Rosetti) seems to be very sympathetic to the maid. She says that the maid has sex with the lord because she loves him and does not criticize her behaviour or suggest that she has done anything wrong by doing this. The tone of 'The Seduction' however, does seem to criticize the girl. The writer (McAuley) seems to criticise the girls behaviour, she makes out that the girl deserves what happens. The phrase "and he muttered little slag" suggests this. I have found 'The Seduction' easier to understand, mainly because the language is simpler and the images described are more modern. However I prefer the imagery used in 'Cousin Kate' because I feel it is more original and interesting. I prefer phrases such as "his plaything and his love" and "he wore me like a silken knot" to his "eyes as blue as iodine" and "green as a septic wound". On the other hand, I think the symbolism used in 'The Seduction' is very effective, i.e. the confetti and the high white shoes. I feel that the main reason I prefer 'The Seduction' is it's easier to relate to for my age group. It is very hard to imagine what it would be like to be singled out by a great lord and then to be left for her cousin and having the lords baby on the way. I find it much easier to relate to 'The Seduction' as I can understand how it must feel to have a 'one night stand' and then become pregnant. 1 ...read more.

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