After a brief presentation of the text (nature, source, date, author, setting, main characters, main facts), explain how women are represented in it. You can make references to previous texts and, obviously, resort to the study of all types of literary devices you may find interesting and relevant.
The text we studied is entitled « What do we want? », it comes from the novel Main Street, which was written by Sinclair Lewis in 1920. The story happens in the late 1910s. It is about a woman named Carol Kennicot. She is an American college graduate from Minneapolis. Carol’s got an issue. She wants to change the world. She finds the people boring, superficial and conservative in her city, Gopher Prairie which is the city where her husband was born. One day, she fantasizes a romance with the town lawyer, Guy Pollock since she thinks he’s got the same idealistic and modern point of view on life and society. Unfortunately for her, she realizes that Guy is also a very conservative and superficial man, just as her husband actually. In this presentation, we’re going to explain what contrast Carols’s vision to Guy’s vision on society.
I) Carol’s vision:
Carol is an independent and intelligent woman, married to Dr Will Kennicot, whose life does not revolve around domestic duties. She reflects the changing roles of women at the turn of century.
The name of this extract is « What do we want? » a question that reoccurs multiple times in the text ( line 8,12). It shows that Carol doesn’t necessarily know what she wants. Indeed we can say that her principal idea is that no matter what we do or who we are we all need the same thing. The problem is that she can’t define that thing, so that one might argue that as a woman, she is presented as an idealist, a dreamer who has nothing concrete and rational to offer. On the contrary, men like her husband or her “lover” are described - generally by themselves! - as more down-to earth people who know what needs to be done. She talks a lot about the problems of society by using enumerations and examples (line 6-8, line 11, line 16). She thinks women are in a place of darkness because of society, which is a very interesting point. She includes everyone in this darkness: « young women with GOOD prosperous husbands » which makes us ask ourselves: How can a GOOD husband keep his wife in a place of DARKNESS? Maybe the attitude that men call protection is felt as oppression by women. This idea is echoed when she mentions « girl college-graduates who wonder how they can escape their kind parents ». The so-called “kindness” of parents and husbands is sometimes an obstacle to the emancipation of women. In “Alice Hindman”, when Ned says he wants to take care of Alice, he means he does not want her to have a job, whereas it would be a good way for her to be independent.
Carol thinks that Guy will help her to change the world and the society but she realizes he is narrow-minded like all the people in Gopher Prairie. When Guy starts arguing with Carol, Carol does not see right away that he disagrees with her. Indeed, he says « Essentially, I think you are like myself, Carol, you want to go back to an age of tranquility and charming manners. You want to enthrone good taste again ».The first thing that can be said here is how self-confident he sounds when saying what Carol thinks and what Carol wants, as if a man knew those things better than a woman. The second thing is that she should have seen he does not share her point of view since he wants to “go back” and she wants to go forward. Moreover, what is also striking in this sentence is when he says: « you want to enthrone good taste again » which means that he thinks too many things have already changed and that he wants to go back to a time when women were even more inferior to men than in the 1910s. Interestingly, he calls this “good taste”, which clearly reveals how profoundly he despises the women’s aspirations for freedom as he implies they are an reflection of “bad taste” or “mediocrity” as he says line 29. The second time Guy answers Carol, it is even more striking than before. He basically says that she has nothing in common with laboring men who struggle in order to have a high salary and also that she exaggerates because she does not seem to have any issues in her personal life. Moreover, he also admits that he’d prefer to keep industrial injustices than see the world ruined and “reduced to a dead level of mediocrity”. This proves he does not want the world to change. He even reconsiders democracy with the word « theoretically » which shows he would not be against a dictatorship actually. He says that if the people Carol talked about as Hindu nationalists, Asiatic colonies, or the industrial workers revolt, it would ruin the world. He does not want to give the world a chance, or to give women a chance. He stays in his position and is intolerant to change.
After studying Carol and Guy’s visions, we can say that their points of views are very different. Carol wants the mentalities and the society to change and Guy does not want the world to change because he thinks it will get worse, meaning his downfall would be the downfall of all mankind. Carol explains what she wants but she does not clearly say how to fix what the world has become actually. She analyses the problems but does not find any solutions. So, on the one hand, we have a smart and strong woman who wants to change the world without finding any solutions and on the other hand, Guy is stuck in his weak mentality and does not want to help Carol. He’s scared of exploring new areas with her and disagrees strongly with what she said.
To conclude, the title « What do we want? » implies the fact that people only do what they should do and not necessarily what they want to do.
In a way we can find a link between this extract and the one from Taming of the Shrew, studied earlier on in the year. For example when she quotes politicians line 21 « we have plans for you », « we’re wiser than you » it echoes when Catherine says « thy husband is thy head » or when she says « for thy maintenance commits his body to painful labour both by sea and land ».
Kelya, Maya-Lou, Gaston. Posted by Gaston.
REMEMBER : TEST ON A NEW, UNKNOWN TEXT ABOUT THE REPRESENTATION OF WOMEN ON APRIL 3rd (2hrs)
Adventure, concerning Alice HINDMAN"
"Adventure, concerning Alice HINDMAN" is a text written by Sherwood Anderson in 1919 and taken from the short story entitled "Winesburg, Ohio". This text is the story of two lovers where one forgets about the other but the other one is still waiting for his lover to return. The story is a train of events and thoughts in Alice's life. It begins with a flashback of her younger days when she was in love with a man called Ned Currie and when she let him become her lover. The next event is the departure of Ned from the town and from her life. The story then gets back to the present and her dejection at being left all alone. The end rises to a climax and then falls back to her acceptance of the situation, but in a rather surprising and unexpected way.
The mood is quite depressing and dejected throughout this text. The reader sympathizes with the woman, Alice, because of her sad situation as Ned has forgotten about her and has moved on, whereas Alice didn't and still is waiting for him to pick her up and live a happy life together. On the other hand, the reader is angry after Ned for letting her wait her whole life to see him again, for forgetting about her and even cheating on her with other women as said in the text "In Chicago he boarded at a house where there were several women. One of them attracted his attention"; this passage suggests that Ned slept with over women without any remorse. The final scene evokes a sense of mad abandon of Alice which for her whole life had an isolated and lonely life because of Ned, which in turn converts itself to a stoic resignation of life. The surprise for a modern-day reader is to see that Alice convinces herself that they are married, “I am his wife”, thereby committing herself to a lonely life as she does not want to have anything to do with other men. The sense of duty to a marriage that is purely hypothetical is totally absent from Marvin’s mindset. The idea is that men are free to move on in life, whereas women are educated in the belief that their “first” man has to be their last one, no matter what.
There are several parts in the text which evoke the mind set of women at the time for example : "With a trembling voice she told him what was in her mind :"I will work and you can work"" this passage tells us several things, first that Alice is a courageous girl because her trembling voice which is the representation of a women's mind set she knows that what she is saying is unusual and even revolutionary because not only is she saying that she wants to work but we can also see that she is exchanging roles with the man's traditional mindset saying that she will work and that the man “can” work, as if his having a job was not exactly a necessity but simply an option. Another example of Ned's change when he goes to the city is that "On the evening before he left Winesburg to take up his new life in the city", “New life” implies that not only will he have a fresh start to find a job but also with his relationship with Alice that he will leave behind to have his new life.
There is an opposition in the characters of Ned and Alice, while Alice is trying to have revolutionary ideas like women working and not the man or the women working and the man working, Ned has a traditional mind set and refuses Alice's proposition because for him it's not normal for women to work. The way he formulates his disapproval is typical of all the things we have read so far. He says she is stupid or crazy “you don’t know what you’re talking about” and he implies that once he has “a good job”, he’ll come back for her, as he will then be able to fulfill his role as Alice’s “keeper”. A woman suggesting work and professional activities is totally absurd for a man like him.
To conclude, one is surprised by the mix of tradition and modernity that characterizes Alice’s attitude. She is modern when she suggests she can find a job and live with Ned without being married, but she is very conservative when she says this type of life is best if unnoticed, “in the city (…) people will pay no attention to us”. Needless to say, her delusory conviction that she and Ned are married and her ensuing refusal of any other man is quite conservative as well.
Posted by Robin, for his group.
The Awakening: The wedding chain.
In this text you can observe a husband and his wife at the end of the XIX century. The husband is a wealthy New Orleans merchant and this is why he controls everyone in his house and more particularly his wife, Edna. Mr. Pontellier often finds excuses to leave the house and go to clubs, for example it says here « The roast was in some way not his fancy ». The use of « some way » means that he doesn’t even try to find good arguments to leave. We can suggest that his excuses are very vague, not precise which can express his lack of effort to find a valid justification, or even that as a husband, no substantial justification is required. When Edna’s husband decides to leave he says « Good night », this can suggest the idea that he is not coming back for the night which can raise the question of cheating, of him having an affair with another woman. Here, we can see that there is absolutely no affection between the two of them as he doesn’t even call her « dear » or « darling ». Mr. Pontellier doesn’t even have to tell Edna to stay home and this can be explained because firstly he doesn’t care about her and secondly he knows she will not leave because he knows the idea of leaving never crossed her mind. Furthermore, at the time it would have been dangerous for a woman to get out alone because it could have been considered as an act of prostitution and Edna’s good education taught her not to do anything against her husband’s will. Women like her are educated so efficiently that their husbands do not even need to tell them to stay home and wait. In this text, the main idea of Mr. Pontellier is that he is a disrespectful and careless husband. Also, the fact that he leaves Edna to finish her dinner by herself is rude. Clearly, the rules of marriage do not mean the same thing whether you are a man or a woman.
What catches the eye of the reader in this story is the fact that Edna seems to be on her way to becoming a less submissive woman. As a matter of fact, in the second line of the text, she says that she “did not mind” the scorched taste of the fish so this line can express a different meaning as well, that she didn’t mind contradicting him, which reflects the first phase of her rebellion against her unloving husband. In the first paragraph, the fact that the word « returned » is used can also hint out her rebellion as it can indicate a reply that is more aggressive than other times. ‘Indifferently’ means that she didn’t care what he was saying so we can say that Edna is bitter towards her husband. We could imagine that Edna is trapped in her own marriage so metaphorically, she could be a prisoner in her own marriage. This idea can relate to the title « The wedding chain » as chains can suggest the idea of prison and that the chains are preventing her from escaping this marriage, from running to her own freedom. In addition, the suggestion of money can be a relation with the first text we studied, from The Taming of the Shrew, as it says that the husband is the one who takes care of everything money wise, he is like the businessman and only breadwinner of the house. Both texts develop the same idea.
In the last part of the text, the sentence « But that evening Edna finished her dinner alone » suggests the change of things, suggests the start of Edna’s rebellion against this miserable marriage which is emphasized with the use of the word « But ». The idea that she finishes her dinner alone could also be a warning that if she doesn’t escape from this unhappy arranged marriage, she will end up eating alone every single day, as a daily routine as if she was finishing her wedding by herself. It relates to the idea of loneliness. Edna has a rushing feeling of anger which is shown with the alliteration in [f] line 27 « Her face was flushed and her eyes flamed with some inward fire that lighted them ». She has a desire to destroy something so she decides to break a vase but this can also propose the idea that she wants to destroy this marriage. The word « passion » can put forward the significance that she needs to find her passion somewhere else. A passion can also mean something that you can’t resist so that could suggest the idea that she can’t resist the thought of breaking her marriage apart, or that she still does not know better than destroying, in the sense that a more “modern” and financially independent woman would surely ask for a divorce and decide for a new life away from this one.
Edna’s little rebellion is put to a stop by her own maid, she stops from going forward with this disobedience. She interrupts Edna’s little moment and gives her back her ring that she threw on the ground earlier. Here, we can say that the maid symbolizes society that doesn’t want the women to rebel against their own husbands; they want them to respect their wedding. Society is organized in such a way that, as we said before, life can be unsafe for single women, as is suggested by the maid’s metaphoric admonition line 44 “you might some of the glass in your feet”. This whole situation can also drip with irony as the maid is a person from a lower class than Edna yet she still manages to control Edna just as her husband does. Edna can be supervised by anyone even by someone who is from a lower social status, which is ironic to the extent that when it comes to limiting women, everything goes, including the admonition of other women, however socially inferior they may be. Katherina did it too in The Shrew, but she was socially equal to the women she was lecturing. We can imagine that if the husband was viewing this scene right now, he would have felt proud of the maid as it is a woman controlling another woman. The maid could be represented as the perfect woman to the husband’s eyes, it’s just like a dream. Edna’s rebellion can have a relation with the title of the short story, « The Awakening » as it’s just as if she had been sleeping all this time until the idea of rebellion crashed through her mind as if she had awaken from her long sleep. Unfortunately, however fully aware of her situation she may be, neither she nor society are ready for the great changes that are needed, and her rebellion remains superficial.
By Jade, Pearl, Elrick & Lucie-Maï. Posted by Lucy-Maï.
“A Girl in Winter” was written by Phillip Larkin in 1947. It’s the story of Catherine, a young woman travelling to Britain by sea. She is a war refugee. A young man, Robin, must welcome her there. We are going to see that, in this extract, the author shows that the woman was generally dependant of the man at this time and how important physical appearances were, and still are.
The first lines describe her suitcase: we are told that all is perfectly ordered. However, the narrator insists too much on that: he repeats several times that “everything [is] in order”, as if the young lady was not used to being so organized and methodical. It can mean that the meeting with this man changes her habits.
Then we can observe in lines 6 and 7 “Robin had arranged to meet her”. This is very significant because it shows that the young man organized the whole meeting and she just accepted it. After that comes the description of the photo Robin sent her.
“It was not a question to which she gave much thought” (about Robin’s appearance): it shows that Catherine had a very strict education which tells her not to turn around boys or even to wonder what they look like. Her education is very oppressive so she doesn’t imagine having a relation with Robin.
Moreover, when she does think about his looks, the expression “The typical English face with projecting teeth” shows the young woman thought of Robin as a conventional man. It reinforces the idea of her not being educated to think he might be attractive. Nevertheless, the expression “in this she had been wrong” shows she finds him more attractive than what she thought.
When the narrator explains that “rather to her surprise, she had shown [Robin’s picture] to nobody except her parents”, the words “rather to her surprise” evoke the fact that she does not find Robin unattractive. However, if she is surprised to find herself attracted to him and if she doesn’t show it to anybody, it’s because it’s not like her to show off. This is because of her education which oppresses her and tells her to abstain from such ideas. To put it differently, she is “surprised” to realize she’s attracted to Robin because she doesn’t know herself well, her education oppressing her and her feelings. It’s a part of her she didn’t expect.She still showed it to her parents because she is honest and she fears to make them suspicious by hiding it.
The photo Catherine sends back to him shows her in a white dress with “hair drawn severely back”. White can be considered as a symbol of how pure she wants to appear. “Severely” can evoke the fact that she needs to look strict to be respected, as for her ordered luggage. Contrary to Robin who looks relaxed but can still be respected because he’s a man, Catherine must look severe to obtain respect because she is a woman.
The young lady sent a “conventional photo”; this means conformity: to be accepted by anyone you must be conventional. The white dress also was conventional at the time. All of this can mean that, as she knows nobody in Britain and Robin is her only chance, she tries to please him so that he accepts her and that she can be trusted.
We can see Robin is outgoing because he is relaxed and is not serious about his appearances: he’s the total contrary of Catherine. We can observe as well that Robin sent the first the photo: it can evoke the tradition of the boy taking the first step, and also again the fact that he is organizing the whole meeting. What also catches the reader’s attention is the absence of vivid colors and of sensuality in Catherine’s picture, as further confirmation of her repressed personality.
Then, when Catherine approaches the coast, she panics. The narrator says “All had been arranged so precisely. Yet, she could not help herself stirring uneasily”: there is no point in stressing, as all is ordered, but still she panics. She doesn’t know Robin so she is mistrustful. However, if she panics for nothing, it means that Robin is not the one to be mistrusted but her. Indeed, the reader is led to understand that the sense of discipline and order displayed by the contents of her suitcase does not last very long when Catherine is tested.
To conclude, we can say this text shows very well how women and men relations were considered and supposed to be at the time, whether it was love or a simple meeting. Either way, the man is always the one in charge, preparing and doing everything, and the woman is depicted as dependent on him, following and playing a much less important role, if any.
Milena, Hippolyte, Babylone & Anais. Posted by Hippolyte.
Eveline is a short story written by James Joyce in 1914.
Eveline is a 19 year old woman who still lives with her brother and father, and works at a shop. The short story reveals that her father is violent and that before her mother died, she made her a promise “The promise to her mother, her promise to keep the home together as long as she could” l.26.
At the beginning of the passage, Frank is presented, through Eveline’s eyes, as a very kind, open hearted man and suggests that Eveline wants to leave her painful life at home and go away with Frank to Buenos Ayres. Eveline seems to think that the air is pure there and people would treat her just like she deserves to be treated, with respect.
The whole story seems to be about her, making a big decision either to go and break her mother’s promise by leaving with Frank or else staying at home. Later in the text we understand that Frank may not be as perfect as she seems to think l.45 “he seizes her hand” “come!”. Here we can associate Frank with her father giving her orders and telling her what she must or not do (the verb “seize” is quite violent after all). Maybe she’s scared that Frank would later behave like her father does. Perhaps in the same way the father did to Eveline’s mother. He has organized everything: “She was to go away”, and she does not have much power to decide anything for herself. No matter what decision Eveline makes, in both ways a man has control over her life, they both control her. She has no agency.
The references to air in the passage could be a metaphor for her life. We realize that where she is right now is a place where the air is “dusty”, not pure, and that she’s used to it: “she knew the air” l.24. We can associate that to the routine of her sad life. Dublin the city, and her family life are suffocating her.
But in Buenos Ayres, which literally means good air, she might have access to purer, cleaner air. She sees Buenos Aires as an opportunity to begin a new life, where people would respect her. In Dublin she’s “inhaling the odour of dusty cretonne”. In the other place she would in a way breathe again.
From lines 10 to 21, we are in her thoughts, she’s desperately hoping for a better future: “but in her new home, in a distant unknown country, it would not be like that.” “Then she would get married”; “people would treat her with respect then.” Although on l.28 reality catches up with her: “She stood up in a sudden impulse of terror. Escape!” It is not clear whether she is terrified of her current life and wants to escape, or whether the very idea of escape is what terrifies her. “Escape” is placed at the end of the sentence, on its own, just after “terror”. The implication is that no matter what she decides, she will always be trapped.
We also notice thanks to the text that she is religious and has a strong relationship with God. If she breaks her promise to her mother she’s afraid of betraying God as well as her mother. Eveline’s afraid to go to hell for this sin. In a moment of hesitation she immediately prays and asks God what to do, either to stay home or to go. L.39 “she prayed to God to direct her, to show her what was her duty.” “She kept moving her lips in silent prayer”. In this, she mirrors her mother’s final actions before she dies, and this perhaps indicates that religion is just another element of control, suffocating her just as much as the air, her father, and Frank.
There is a lot of imagery in this text, which increases Eveline’s feelings and sensations.
L.48 “Amid the seas she sent a cry of anguish!” She’s amid the seas, crying is useless because nobody can hear her, no one can help her. It is as though she is drowning (metaphorically, in her sad life).
L.45 “As a bell clanged upon her heart”. This metaphor might at first suggest that God has answered her request and that she finally knows what she has to do. Of course, there is no real bell but it’s like an alarm which rings into Eveline in order to remind her of what choice to take. The bell can also be associated with church bells which chime for weddings, but also for funerals, the bell almost sounds like the knell of death. Something is dying, whether it be her hopes for a new life or her unborn love for Frank. The presence of death is also palpable l.39 “the boat blew a long mournful whistle into the mist”: we can compare the mist to Eveline’s deafness when Frank is telling her how beautiful her life will be with him. Perhaps it also indicates her deafness towards Frank himself.
L.38 “out of the maze” suggests she is completely lost and unable to find her way out. It finds an echo l.32, with “the swaying crowd”, a metaphor for Eveline’s undecided, wavering mind; like the crowd she is swaying, hesitating between two decisions. She is lost, confused.
L.14, the simile between her mother and her, (and more specially, between her mother’s life and her own life)”She would not be treated as her mother” shows that Eveline’s mother had a negative and hard life, and never received any respect. This sentence suggests something about the relationship that the mother and the father had: a relationship of domination which Eveline wants to flee. This simile also shows us Eveline’s desire for independence and the modal “would” conveys the sense of her determination, that is for the time being.
L.19, there is a short enumeration, talking about Frank in a very positive way, “Frank was very kind, manly, open-hearted”. For Eveline, at this moment, Frank is a perfect person and this enumeration can reflect her idealization of him as an honest, “frank” gentleman.
She expects so much of their relationship that she doesn’t see his bad side.
L.51, “like a helpless animal” is another simile evoking just how vulnerable Eveline is. If she is a “helpless” animal, then Frank could be a predator.
Reading between the lines, we might think that Frank, whose name suggests openness and honesty is not as frank and sincere as he appears. Buenos Ayres is actually a well-known city of prostitution, where women came and went. “She was to take the night boat to be his wife and live with him in Buenos Ayres”: the structure of this sentence suggests she cannot really be sure he is really going to marry her. Likewise, on l29, we might see an irony in the sentence “Frank would have her” since this can mean that he will look after her, but it can also mean that he wants to “have” her sexually. Frank is also full of clichés, which may also indicate he is not so sincere.
Finally, it is interesting that although Frank’s words are given in direct speech at the end of the story, Eveline’s remain in indirect speech, in other words, unspoken words. Her paralysis is complete. It reflects the incapacity of a young woman of the early 20th century to free herself from the burden of society's judgment "what would they say of her?". Eveline had the opportunity to decide for herself and escape, but her sense of social and religious "duty" prevails over her just desire for emancipation.
Julie, Imen & Cara. Posted by Cara.
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)