The Ruined Maid - Resources for Miss Archer's GCSE classes

The Ruined Maid - Resources for Miss Archer's GCSE classes

The Ruined Maid By Thomas Hardy What do you think ruined maid might imply or mean? When might such a term have been used? Read the quotes from the poem you have been given what impression do these give you? What do you think the poem is about? Prostitution in Thomas Hardys England Although we may think of Victorian England as very strict and moral there was probably just as much behaviour that would still be considered shocking then as there is now, if not more. Drug taking, violent crime, prostitution, adultery and pornography all went on but were hidden under a more genteel surface leading to hypocrisy and double standards. In Hardys time, there was also much less equality in England than there is today so there were different expectations and treatment for the poor and the rich, and for men and women.

In the 19th century (as in some cultures and societies today) there was a double standard whereby it was usually accepted or even expected that men had sex outside marriage but women who did this were called fallen women and considered ruined. They were often shunned by polite society, banished from their families, or worse, left without support, money or connections. Opportunities, rights and support for women were so limited that many poor women felt they had no option but to turn to prostitution to make enough money to live. However, there wasnt usually much sympathy or understanding for their circumstances. Prostitution was seen as a big problem, not only as a nuisance in society, but as a threat to morality. Although prostitution was not spoken about in polite society, prostitutes and adulterous and otherwise fallen women were popular subjects for Victorian art and literature. This sort of art and literature often conveyed a message or lesson which aimed to reinforce Victorian values and warn against sexual temptation. 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 didnt you know Id been ruined? said she.

You left us in tatters, without shoes or socks, Tired of digging potatoes, and spudding up docks; And now youve gay bracelets and bright feathers three! Yes: thats how we dress when were ruined, said she. At home in the barton you said thee and thou, And thik oon, and thes oon, and tother; but now Your talking quite ts ee for high compa-ny! Some polish is gained with ones ruin, said she. Your hands were like paws then, your face blue and bleak But now Im bewitched by your delicate cheek, And your little gloves t as on any la-dy! We never do work when were ruined, said she. You used to call home-life a hag-ridden dream, And youd sigh, and youd sock; but at present you seem To know not of megrims or melancho-ly! True. Ones pretty lively when ruined, said she. I wish I had feathers, a ne 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 aint ruined, said she. This poem is a form of dramatic dialogue. In the poem, Hardy presents a conversation between two women. One of the women is called Melia. She has moved away and has changed in many ways. As they talk, the role and treatment of women during the Victorian era reveals itself as a major theme within the poem. At the time, women were not treated equally to men. They were forced to project an image of morality, and if they deviated away from that image, they were seen as being tainted or soiled. In The Ruined Maid, Hardy uses irony and satire. Irony: This is a device writers use to express something different from and often opposite to their literal meaning. Satire: Satire aims to show the reader the absurdity of human follies and vices. Writers who use satire want the reader to acknowledge such wrongs in society. The poet mocks Victorian attitudes to morality and fallen women.

ballad-like form aabb rhyming pattern = lighthearted tone the strict rhyme scheme mirrors the strict moral codes of the time 4th line of every stanza is Melias sarcastic reply the clean living girl speaks the most, which makes her seem childlike, chatty and unrened repetition of ruined in every stanza contrasts with Melias ne appearance Vocabulary: Whence: from where Spudding: weeding with a sharp spade Docks: dock leaves Barton: barn Hag-ridden: tormented; troubled Megrims: depression How has Melia

changed? Use your worksheet to nd out. Why might this be shortened? Mocking her friends use of O (genuine shock) sarcasm? 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 didnt you know Id been ruined? said she.

You left us in tatters, without shoes or socks, Tired of digging potatoes, and spudding up docks; And now youve gay bracelets and bright feathers three! Yes: thats how we dress when were ruined, said she. Colloquialism/ dialect used by friend spudding up docks = digging up weeds Matter of fact tone Melias ruin seems to be common knowledge Alliteration adds to bouncing rhythm/ lighthearted tone

Use of we to identify with larger group Alliteration draws attention to contrast of shoes/socks and bracelets / bright feathers How has Melia gained such prosperity? Why is this ironic? Dover dialect: contrasts with more rened speech of Melia What impression does it give of the country

girl? barton = barn/ farmyard Speaks in a more formal way use of impersonal pronoun At home in the barton you said thee and thou, And thik oon, and theas oon, and tother; but now Your talking quite ts ee for high compa-ny! Some polish is gained with ones ruin, said she. Your hands were like paws then, your face blue and bleak But now Im bewitched by your delicate cheek, And your little gloves t as on any la-dy! We never do work when were ruined, said she. Is this an implied criticism/suggestion of wrongdoing?

Why is it ironic that Amelia is fit for high company? Contrast with the previous use of alliteration (bracelets/ bright) Animalistic simile (contrast this with little gloves) megrim = migraine strut suggests her friend thinks

Melia is arrogant 2 lines for her nal retort Metaphor: her previous life was a nightmare, but her current life surely seemed like an impossible dream You used to call home-life a hag-ridden dream, And youd sigh, and youd sock; but at present you seem To know not of megrims or melancho-ly! True. Ones pretty lively when ruined, said she. I wish I had feathers, a ne 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 aint ruined, said she.

Direct address; again mocking the words used by her old friend (stanza 1) Alliteration: sounds reflect the mood aint: her dialect creeps in, revealing her humble origins and connecting her to her friend Caesura places the emphasis on you. The tables are turned; she is judging the clean

living girl. Repetition of said she creates emphatic tone to highlight Melias consistent lack of remorse On your tables, split into two groups. Group 1: Dialect and dialogue: The Ruined Maid Group 2: Tone and attitude: The Ruined Maid Each group should complete the questions on their side of the worksheet, then share their ideas with the other group. By the end of the session, both groups should have all the questions answered, with answers written down. Melia is short for Amelia Melior means better To ameliorate is to make something bad better A meliorist is someone who believes that society can be improved by people making an effort

Why do you think the poet called the ruined maid Amelia? What do you think the poets message is? Discussion Time! What is your overall impression of the poem? Do you think Hardy is a feminist? Do you think he really feels that the young girl is ruined? Is her new life better than her old life? What will be the final outcome for Amelia, once her beauty and youth have faded? Its time to summarise! Were going to make a note of the poems VITALS. Poetry VITALS Voice: Who is speaking in the poem?

Imagery: What imagery is being created? is it effective? How Theme: What are the main themes featured in the poem? Address: Who is the poem addressed to? Why? Language (Features): What type of language/ devices are used? What is their effect? Structure: How is the poem laid out? What is the effect of this?

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