The Ruined Maid Analysis Essay
In the poem, “The Ruined Maid,” the author Thomas Hardy utilizes closed from poetry, different components of versification, and detailed imagery, to discreetly add to, and support the overall meaning of the ironic and satirical poem.
Right from the start, it is fairly straightforward to recognize that the poem is written in closed form. Each of the six quatrains is made up of a pair of rhyming couplets adhering to the following rhyme scheme: AABB, CCBB, DDBB, and so on through the entire poem. Not only does this poem contain a set rhyme scheme, but it also possesses a set rhythm. There are two unstressed syllables, immediately followed by a stressed syllable, meaning the poem is written in anapestic meter. Another example of the closed form poetry is how all but one of the quatrains begins with three lines being spoken by the country girl, and the fourth by Melia, the ruined maid. However, Melia speaks two lines of the last quatrains of the poem, perhaps to reinforce her words. Along with that, is the consistency with the line length through the poem. Finally, all of the quatrains end with the same words by the ruined made, who states, “said she”. This closed form may hint at the idea of the closed, strict rules of the era, and how the women in the poem have a poor future no matter what they choose to do.
Along with Hardy’s closed form writing, comes different elements of versification to contribute to the poem’s meaning. The poem is written entirely in rhyming couplets, supporting the idea of dialogue, and the conversation between the two characters. For the most part, the rhyming is conventional, for example lines 13 and 14, both describing her face. However, a few couplets seem completely unrelated, like lines 5 and 6, talking about socks, and docks, where docks mean digging up weedy herbs. These strange pairings help the author to express the satirical and ironic nature of the poem. While using rhyme, Hardy also uses the element of meter to add to the poem. The poem is written in anapestic meter, with the poem having a rising tone, and giving the feel of lightheartedness. Anapestic meter also moves quicker, and lighter than most meters, giving it a lively, and song-like impression. This aids in the reinforcement of the satire and irony in the poem.
While using these poetic devices within the poem, the author also uses a more common literary device in imagery. Throughout the entire poem, imagery and descriptive words can be found, that help to illustrate the poem within the mind of the reader. An example of this is in line 7, where the words bracelets and feathers are described as gay, and bright. Another great example is in lines 13 and 14. The ruined maid has her hands described as paws, and her face blue and bleak; giving the idea of dehumanization, and how her living conditions were so poor. The poem goes on to state how the country girl sees the ruined maid’s face, and how she is bewitched by the delicacy of her cheek, the polar opposite of how she used to see her. Despite these seemingly positive changes, Melia is still “ruined” reinforcing the ironic nature behind the poem.
Throughout “The Ruined Maid”, Hardy makes good use of closed form poetry, versification, and imagery, to add to the ironic and satirical poem.