Victorian Morality in ''The Ruined Maid'' by Thomas Hardy Poem Review by scribbler

Victorian Morality in ''The Ruined Maid'' by Thomas Hardy
This presents an analysis and explanation of "The Ruined Maid" by Thomas Hardy.
# 153532 | 828 words | 1 source | 2013 | US
Published on Jun 10, 2013 in Literature (English) , Literature (Poetry)

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This paper presents an analysis of Thomas Hardy's poem, "The Ruined Maid", explaining the innuendos he uses to describes the morality of Victorian society. The paper concludes that many unmarried Victorian women enjoyed their relative wealth and privilege despite the high price they paid.


From the Paper:

''In many cases, the women who had given themselves to wealthy men in this way became prostitutes or spent their lives as spinsters in convents, such was the significance of the moral stain that they endured for the rest of their lives in Victorian society. The woman about whom Hardy's poem is written exemplifies this social problem: in the short term, her lifestyle is highly preferable to her previous circumstances. Unfortunately, from the longer-term perspective, the same privileges and opportunities she enjoyed also ruined her.
''The poem's narrator describes the protagonist (Melia) as having "...left us in tatters, without shoes or socks, [T]ired of digging potatoes, and spudding up docks; [A]nd now you've gay bracelets and bright feathers three!" This is clearly a reference to the fact that her illicit sexual relationship as provided her with better clothes in addition to relieving her of her previous burden of having to work the potato fields to support herself. She acknowledges the reality that her easier lifestyle has come with a high price because she responds, "Yes: that's how we dress when we're ruined."
''Subsequently, the narrator notices that Melia's hands used to look like "paws" but that they are now adorned in "little gloves" worn by a "lady," presumably of much higher social class than Melia's. Likewise, she refers to the contrast in Melia's face, one "blue and bleak" but now a "delicate cheek." Again, as she does throughout the poem, Melia acknowledges the price of her temporary improvement in life and elevation of social status: "We never do work when we're ruined." In fact, Melia refers to her having been ruined at the end of every stanza in the poem, as though to drive home the point that each and every benefit of her social situation is also associated with unavoidable negative consequences.''

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