Presentation on theme: "The Ruined Maid. Read the poem… Things you should know… This poem gives a voice to two ordinary women ‘Melia is shortened from Amelia ‘Melia is an ironic."— Presentation transcript:
The Ruined Maid
Read the poem…
Things you should know… This poem gives a voice to two ordinary women ‘Melia is shortened from Amelia ‘Melia is an ironic pun on the Latin word ‘melior’ which means better The poem is made up of six quatrains (four lined stanzas) – all, except the last, are organised in the same way
You need to know this… The poem is about ‘ruin’ and is actually about prostitution. In Victorian England, people were very uptight and would not speak freely about sex although it is estimated that about 20% of women were actually prostitutes or a married man’s mistress. It is unclear whether ‘Melia is a prostitute or a mistress.
Stanza one "O 'Melia, my dear, this does everything crown! Who could have supposed I should meet you in Town? And whence such fair garments, such prosperi-ty?"- "O didn't you know I'd been ruined?" said she. this phrase means – this is better than anything else clothes The first girl (whose name we never learn) lives and works in the countryside – she addresses her friend in the first three lines In the final line of each stanza, ‘Melia responds – note how she always uses a word that has something to do with ‘ruin’ This stanza establishes that ‘Melia has changed since they last met – her change of clothes here suggests she has improved her situation. Prosperi-ty = success – Hardy (the poet) has used a hyphen to show how the friend pronounces the word – we are forced to emphasise the last syllable which highlights the rhyme in the poem
Stanza Two -"You left us in tatters, without shoes or socks, Tired of digging potatoes, and spudding up docks; And now you've gay bracelets and bright feathers three!"- "Yes: that's how we dress when we're ruined," said she. rags This means – removing weeds (docks) with a short knife (spud) This stanza gives us detail about the life ‘Melia used to live in the countryside. The women had no shoes or socks and were paid to dig up potatoes Now we learn that ‘Melia has jewellery and feathers in her hat which show she now has more money and belongings
Stanza Three -"At home in the barton you said 'thee' and 'thou,' And 'thik oon,' and 'theas oon,' and 't'other'; but now Your talking quite fits 'ee for high compa-ny!"- "Some polish is gained with one's ruin," said she. farmyard Thee and thou mean ‘you’ Thik oon = that one Theas oon = this one T’other = the other ‘ee = he This stanza tells us that ‘Melia has changed the way she speaks. When she lived in the fields she spoke in a dialect. This shows us how her life has changed for the better (melior)
Stanza Four -"Your hands were like paws then, your face blue and bleak But now I'm bewitched by your delicate cheek, And your little gloves fit as on any la-dy!"- "We never do work when we're ruined," said she. This simile shows us how hard life was in the countryside. He hands were like animals’ – possibly dirty and rough These words suggest that ‘Melia’s face used to be ‘blue’ possibly from the cold but also because she was sad. Bleak suggests she had a gloomy look However, now ‘Melia has softer skin and her hands are no longer roughened by work
Stanza Five -"You used to call home-life a hag-ridden dream, And you'd sigh, and you'd sock; but at present you seem To know not of megrims or melancho-ly!"- "True. One's pretty lively when ruined," said she. Plagued by evil spirits Sock = to take a short intake of breath migraines sadness Clearly ‘Melia is much happier now – ‘Melia used to talk about her life using the metaphor ‘hag-ridden dream’ and would ‘huff and puff’ and complain about it. Now ‘Melia seems happy - she says she feels ‘pretty lively’ which could suggest she is full of life and happy.
Stanza Six "-I wish I had feathers, a fine sweeping gown, And a delicate face, and could strut about Town!"- "My dear--a raw country girl, such as you be, Cannot quite expect that. You ain't ruined," said she. The first girl says she wished she had the things ‘Melia had. In this stanza ‘Melia has a two line response. ‘Melia points out to her friend that she can’t have the same life as her because she is not ruined. The word ‘ain’t’ shows us that ‘Melia has not become ‘polished’ or posh like her friend thinks – this word shows her old dialect
To be ruined in Victorian Britain meant… You have lost your virginity before marriage. ‘Melia will no longer be able to get married in a respectable way. The irony is that despite being ‘ruined’ she is actually living a better life than she did as a farm labourer
Hardy is showing… That he didn’t agree with the class system of his day. ‘Melia has no other way to be ‘better off’ than to sell her body. In Victorian society, women were not allowed to ‘better’ themselves – the were in subservient positions Women had no education and couldn’t work in a profession like men could Women’s only choice to make more money was to sell themselves Women had a limited choice – they could either be morally ruined or they would have to be financially and physically ruined by farmwork
Further points… The title of the poem does not say which maid is ruined – they both are in a sense The tone of the poem is light hearted – it is a casual conversation between friends The first speaker, does not seem to understand the true nature of ‘Melia ‘Melia does not seem to want to reveal her true circumstances the her friend
This poem… Expresses sympathy for the situation working class Victorian women were in Attacks Victorian attitudes to class and sex Reveals the hypocrisy at the heart or respectable society (hypocrisy = claiming to have moral beliefs but acting in a way that says otherwise)