THIS IS THE FINAL PART OF THE ORAL PRESENTATION, ADD IT TO THE FIRST TWO COMMENTARIES BY ELIOTT AND JEAN.
At the end of the passage, lines 10 and 11 are going together. A comparison is made between the servitude due to a prince and the duty of a woman towards her husband.
Indeed, the woman is presented as a "subject" (line 10) and the husband is presented as a "prince" (line 10/11 prince/husband). This idea is reinforced at line 13 by the words "they should kneel" and by line 15 where it is said that the women "are bound to serve and obey", suggesting that this obedience is something natural, that they are born with it, whereas it is merely the result of education.
Furthermore, line 13, "war" and "peace" are opposed to one another as different consequences of women's comportment: obedience would allow peace and insubordination would bring war. Implicitly, if many wives are concerned, the addition of individual wars may lead to a sort of civil war, which means that such women are labeled as dangerous for society.
However, I think we cannot talk about peace in case of submission. In fact, submission implies the violence of the husband towards the woman. And if the woman is finally submitted, it is just a won war, and in war there is no love.
In conclusion, the marital relationship described by the woman is reduced to a relation of power, made legitimate as it was decided by God.
The last 4 lines, to "I am ashamed..." until "obey" reveal that all women are not like that. The spoke person's opinion and the sentence "I am ashamed that women are so simple" reveal that this woman is an obedient woman. She speaks as a sexist man would, which is the ultimate form of submission as her husband does not need to brainwash other women, she takes care of it. (SOE)
This extract is from one of William Shakespeare's famous plays, 'The Taming of the Shrew'. It was written in 1593. In this passage, a woman called Katharina defends and believes in her husband's sexist vision of women, even though she has been mistreated by him.
The first thing to notice is the use of ‘thy’, ‘thou’ and ‘thee’. They reflect a familiarity that gives the impression women are inferior, it debases them. In itself, the enumeration of the first two verses reveals a husband is everything to his wife.
Line 1, we can read ‘Thy husband is thy lord’. It means the wife must obey her husband because he is her lord, possibly her god, which is confirmed by ‘thy life’. It not only means she should only live for him, it also suggests the husband gives her life and is also entitled to take it away from her, just as God is. In line 2, we can read ‘Thy head’. It suggests the husband thinks for her wife so she should not try to think but do as instructed. Incidentally, it may be understood that women were considered as incapable of reflection and decision-making. This is in keeping with the word “keeper” which might suggest the husband plays the role of a ‘babysitter’ because he protects her wife and controls her, he always watches her, but of course for her own good, like a babysitter would do. Then, we can read ‘one that cares for thee”, which echoes ‘thy keeper’ on line 1. Those two expressions mean that the woman should obey and should not try to defend herself because her husband will always be here to defend her. It follows that if you say to someone they should not defend themselves, then they will be weak. And if the woman is attacked when her husband is not close to her, she won’t be able to defend herself. Thus, women are maintained in a constant state of dependence.
Lines 3 and 4, we can find an image that shows how hard the husband is working for her. The passage is clearly hyperbolic and it means to show that the husband could do everything for his wife, in a sort of heroic sacrifice. But we know he won’t do that ‘for free’. That is why he wants her to obey him. In addition, insisting on the so-called difficulties of a man’s life might make women think twice before asking for their place, it is a way to show them it’s a lot more comfortable to be a woman.
Then, line 5, we can find the word ‘watch’ which has a double meaning. It first means that the husband watches his wife to protect her, but also to control her. This quote, ’the night in storms, the day in cold’, not only shows he will protect her but also, ironically, that he will control his wife whatever happens, even at night or if it is cold. (ELIOTT)
From verses 6 to 10, Kathrina explains the three duties a woman should fulfill to please her husband. These three duties are "love, fair looks, and true obedience".
"Love" means the woman should be devoted to her husband, as she is supposed to love him. Of course, one might suppose that physical love is hinted at, as much as the feeling in itself.
"Fair looks" mean that the woman must always look beautiful to please her husband’s physical desires. We can say she is more considered as an object than as a human being.
"True obedience" means the woman must behave submissively to her husband: she is considered as her servant. The word "true" emphasizes the word "obedience", therefore we can consider this duty as the most important of all three. However, if obedience is a duty or an obligation, it can hardly be “true” in the same time; obedience cannot come both from one’s heart and one’s obligation to obey. This is an important contradiction in the ideology justifying women’s submission.
These three duties, if completed will mean that Katharina will always look up to her husband. Therefore, this system in which the woman is treated as inferior will remain because the woman will believe her husband is superior.
Katharina justifies a woman should complete these three duties by saying a woman "lies at home, secure and safe" thanks to her husband. She implies a woman should feel guilty for doing nothing compared to the absolute, heroic devotion of her loving husband. Likewise, the fact all this remains “too little” leads women to feel incapable of giving their husbands the satisfaction they deserve, hence a guilt complex which guarantees their feeling of inferiority.
Line 10 can be seen as a conclusion and a summary of these three duties. It says the woman is "the subject" of her husband, "the prince". Therefore, again, she is inferior and owes him duties. (JEAN)
Awaiting Soe's publication.
Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper,
Thy head, thy sovereign; one that cares for thee,
And for thy maintenance commits his body
To painful labour both by sea and land,
To watch the night in storms, the day in cold,
Whilst thou liest warm at home, secure and safe;
And craves no other tribute at thy hands
But love, fair looks and true obedience;
Too little payment for so great a debt.
Such duty as the subject owes the prince
Even such a woman oweth to her husband (...)
I am ashamed that women are so simple
To offer war where they should kneel for peace;
Or seek for rule, supremacy and sway,
When they are bound to serve, love and obey.
William Shakespeare 1593.
Main guideline for your group work and oral presentation: explore the different ways this passage conveys the sense of women's supposed inferiority at the time of the play.
Starting line 8, the lexical field of ''light'' is massively used by the poet with “radiance”, “bright”, “splendour” and “glory”; these expressions symbolize the perfect happiness of his childhood days. However, such expressions as ''once”, “for ever taken” or “nothing can bring back” make the reader nostalgic about the distant past , it implies that happiness , joy , hope is gone , clearly something wonderful has come to an end. As one goes through this cruel realization that happy days are gone by, one might feel totally depressed, desperate, heart-broken, distressed / disheartened.
Verse 8 is a turning point in so far as ‘‘what though'' and “though” make the reader feel like the poet doesn't care , as if it did not matter to him that everything was lost. The truth to the matter is that the poet isn't worried anymore which also brings us to verses 12-15 where we read ''we will grieve not” which not only means that the poet won't grieve but also that he refuses to feel sorry for himself. With the final position of the negation the poet's determination not to grieve is thrown / brought to light, it clearly emphasizes his determination to hold on to his happiness. The question is to know where he gets this will power, this energy after so many dark thoughts going through his mind. This “strength” comes from the good memories that “remain behind”, they are neither lost nor forgotten! Interestingly, the word ‘‘remain’’ suggests these moments are bound to be left behind and can't be retrieved but in the same time, one may understand that if they “remain” there, they haven’t disappeared and can thereby be retrieved if we try.
Earlier in the poem, the message was that the heart and mind can help people be reunited even when separated (“we in thought will join your throng”), now it seems that the mind has the power to bring memories back to life, to reunite the poet with his childhood days and to make him happy again.
The final verses convey the same message. “Sympathy” evokes feelings and emotions shared by a community of people and the adjective “primal” may be an allusion to the early feelings and emotions experienced when we are children and that never really disappear, as they are a light that never dims (Zlatan).
The conclusion could be that happy memories do not have to be a temporary feeling bound to fade away as we grow older with time. As long as our memories live, they will be part of us, they are not just the past, but also the present and the future. They will always exist and will always give us the energy we need to carry on. Of course, this idea is not very new in itself, but the way Wordsworth puts it in this passage is just pure brilliance.
Posted by Dorington, completed by me.
TEST FRIDAY 28 SEPT, on the analysis of a different poem but with the same theme(s)
The main idea in verses 4 to 7 of “Intimations of Immortality” is that the communication between kids and nature that was brought to light verse 1 with “ye birds” is growing tighter and more intense.
Verse 4 talks about the unity of a group composed of human kids and lambs, who represent nature. For example, “we”, “join” and “throng” refer to this strongly united group who seems to be together in real life. Communication grows into communion. However, this verse also contains the words “in thought” that change the meaning of the sentence. Indeed, this group is not united in a physical way, but in a psychological way, that means the members think about the rest of the group without being with it. It’s only a virtual communication in the head of the kids, the objective of which is to reassure, comfort and confide in them as if they were all together with no separation. The mind has the power to bridge all distances.
Nature is also showed as a human being with a “heart” able to communicate with humans, feel, have energy and so live : in a way, there is some humanity in nature. This can be the justification of this intense communication between the two biological groups and makes emotion very strong. Indeed, the “heart” is showed as a sixth sense that can transcend, surpass or even replace the five others which thereby become unnecessary as it allows one to feel everything. This is a totally romantic interpretation, in the sense that the romantic poet generally views nature as his purely spiritual equal.
Finally, this passage has an interesting musicality and rhythm that make it sounds like a song; for example, we can notice an alternation of the stressed and unstressed syllables (“WE in THOUGHT will JOIN your THRONG”). It creates a perfect harmony showing the poet’s impressive and balanced relation with nature. The happiness of life is showed by repetitions, short words and stresses at the end of the verses which all create an upbeat rhythm and allow the reader to imagine a scene in which lambs are jumping and people dancing. These writing methods make us think about energy and movement, which together mean life.
Posted by Nael
Recap of how we analyzed verses 1-3 of the extract of the poem "Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood”, by W. Wordsworth.
(Teacher’s corrections & additions in bold type)
PLEASE COPY THIS IN YOU EXCERCISE BOOKS
Among these three verses we have found a common general idea: it all evokes childhood, its purity and its innocence.
In verses 1 and 2, the triple occurrence of «sing» combined with «joyous song» introduces the poem as happy and carefree. It also gives the poem a lyrical tone. Naturally, this music suggests a celebration is under way. The words "lambs" and "birds" can evoke childhood, innocence, and purity, as well as the rebirth of life and of nature. Such might be the things celebrated by the poet.
"Ye birds" shows a tight connection between the poet and the birds, but also between him and nature as a whole as well. The birds could be friends of the poet, it is a possible personification. The expression "young lambs" is a redundancy: it alludes to the fact the lambs are even younger and echoes the “early childhood” mentioned in the title. The poet wishes to go as far back in time as possible, arguably because the younger we are, the more innocent we are.
"Let the young lamb" evokes freedom, as if barriers and obstacles were destroyed. In parallel, "bound" suggests energy and movement: it alludes to life. No life is really possible without freedom of movement
Verse 3, "As to the tabor's sound" evokes music and celebration. However, the word “as” indicates there is no tabor actually being played: there is no need of music so to a certain degree they are the music or the music is so "intense" that it becomes a feeling. For the poet and for many people, nature is a music that gives them a path to follow. (Camille)
sent by Hippolyte
Presentation of what will be done this year.
Group work method(s) briefly explained. Presentation of this blog and of how it will be used.
Text one handed out, as an introduction to what is required to comment upon a work of literary quality.
Random ideas and interpretations suggested by the class, recap to come shortly.