Marriage is Class.

In Chapter 4 of ‘Mansfield Park’ we see the introduction of the Crawfords. These characters highlight the relationship between social class and marriage, as everything about the characters seems to be about these two things. In the time of ‘Mansfield Park’ marriage was very important as the only way to change social classes was through marriage.

The Crawfords are introduced through the fact that their mother had a “second marriage”. Austen talks about their fortune, “The son had a good estate in Norfolk, the daughter twenty thousand pounds” and their beauty, “Mary Crawford was remarkably pretty”. Austen is showing that the upper classes are obsessed with marriage and their suitability for marriage. They are delighted with the idea of living so close to the Bertrams as they could be suitable companions, “she had fixed on Tom Bertram; the eldest son of a Baronet was not too good for a girl of twenty thousand pounds,” they’re only concerned with marriage, especially Mary,  “matrimony was her object”.

Austen seems to dislike the upper classes and their material extravagances: “filled her favourite sitting room with pretty furniture”. The phrase “choice collection of plants and poultry” shows her negative attitudes towards these classes, plants and poultry are unnecessary things to have a “choice collection” of, and this is why Austen uses them.

Mrs Grant suggests that Henry marries the “youngest Miss Bertram, a nice, handsome, good-humoured, accomplished girl.” This suggestion itself shows how conversations were based around marriage and suitability, this makes it seem like the upper classes think of nothing else. Henry is established by Mary as the “most horrible flirt”, introducing his attitude to love. She also shows how the whole families (“very clever women” apparently) of some girls have tried to “reason, coax or trick him” into marrying the girl. This shows how desperate women are to ascend the social classes.

The phrase that a wife is “Heaven’s last best gift” shows how God bestowed wives almost as free servants to men. God’s last ‘best gift’ was Eve, who was given as a companion to Adam. This alludes to religious ideas about gender roles and females being inferior to males. Mrs Grant says that she pays “very little regard” “to what any young person says on the subject of marriage. If they profess a disinclination for it,” she assumes “that they have not yet seen the right person.” She suggests that all young people want to get married and they are lying if they say that they don’t. It shows the attitudes towards marriage of the upper classes. The chapter ends with Miss Crawford saying that marriage is necessary if the woman can do it “to advantage”. This almost suggests that marriage isn’t due to love, it’s only to progress in social class.

Thanks for reading,

Jack   

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Yeats’ dream is Gonne

‘Broken Dreams’ by W.B. Yeats tackles with the ideas of time, afterlife, aging and the effect of unrequited love. The poem is a long monologue in which Yeats describes Gonne using past, present, idealised and transient images of her. It explores her perfections, especially due to her imperfection. It shows how his thoughts and feelings for her evolved over time. Its a journey of many images and ideas about Gonne, some detailed, some longing, some immediate and some fading into mere memory. The poem is strange amongst Yeats’ poems, as it is one long stanza. This coupled with the enjambment makes the poem sound like rambled thoughts. The rhyme scheme is tight at the beginning, weakens later on and then strengthens near the very end. This could be interpreted in two ways:

  • It represents life and the effect of aging: you begin life as a strong individual, then weaken as you grow old, and are then strengthened by your memories as you look back on your life.  
  • It represents Yeat’s love of Maud Gonne: Began very strong thus he was besotted, then after many rejections he gave up hope. Near the end of his life he looks back and realises that he still loves her no matter what.

When Maud was with Yeats she was having affairs and illegitimate children, yet he was still in love. He never forgot his first meeting with her and was completely obsessed, she became his muse, the source of inspiration. She was possibly too much of a modern woman for him, she broke his heart. In his writing she is his Helen of Troy – a vicious freedom fighter. She is increasingly written as a memory, with many of the poems having an elegaic tone. In this poem she is more imagined than real. For a Romantic like Yeats we see that Gonne is almost transformed into a mythical being in his poetry.

The title, ‘Broken Dreams’ shows the imperfection, that Yeats’ life is incomplete without Gonne. His dreams of having a relationship with Gonne has been shattered. The poem opens with an unflattering truth, “grey in your hair”, this gives Yeats the opportunity to flatter Gonne later on in the poem. This first line dramatically introduces the theme of love and time. Lines 2 and 3, “young men no longer suddenly catch their breath” introduce the idea of fading youth, showing that Gonne isn’t as she was. Yeats describes himself as an “old gaffer” who was “recovered” by her. The words “old gaffer” show the personal and conversational tone. The word “recovered” shows how she has revived his life and his attitudes to love. This makes her sound almost divine, as if she has the power of a saint or miracle worker to recover lives. The phrase “your prayer” has a hint of possessive pride.

The phrase “for your sole sake” is a pun. The phrase ‘for your souls sake’ is to do with the afterlife and going to heaven, and the effect of using the word “sole” shows that heaven has prevented her (and her alone) from giving in to time. This is repeated to emphasise the point. Yeats shows his rapturous admiration by suggesting that she makes “peace” when she “merely” walks into a room. The line “Vague memories, nothing but memories” shows that beauty must one day fade and die. The phrase also show that his memories of Gonne are on a pedestal. However this could be Yeats rejecting his other relationships (including his wife) and saying that they’re “nothing but memories”. The phrase haunts the poem, suggesting how inadequate the mind/Yeats can be to the reality of her mardless physical beauty.

When he talks about the “young man” asking the “old man” is exactly what is happening today. We are all talking about Gonne in our A Level and her significance, thus Yeats has given her the highest accolade – longevity and life beyond death as she is immortalised in his poems. When he talks about her “first loveliness” Yeats is referring to her being reborn in heaven. This highlights the sad truth that she has faded on earth but then shows that she will be reborn just as beautiful as ever in heaven.

After he talks about “muttering like a fool” the rest of the poem is him doing just that, “You are more beautiful than anyone”. This is a passionate recollection, showing the eb and flow of hope and longing. This humanises the drama of his love in a way that is profoundly moving. Yeats then goes on to say that there is a “flaw”: her “small hands” that weren’t beautiful. This shows a strong,mature relationship as he can insult her, he can see the negatives. However he loves these imperfections, asking that when she is reborn in heaven she is reborn just as she is, “don’t change the hands that I have kissed”. This shows that he thinks she is perfect just the way she is.

Yeats talks about the “always brimming lake” – probably referring to the fountain of youth, which brings the image of a gyre. The image of a gyre is always shown in the phrase “the last stroke of midnight”. This shows the idea that life has come full circle and he is close to death. The phrase “dream to dream and rhyme to rhyme” sounds almost elegaic and has a deathly tone, similar to the phrase ‘dust to dust’.  The “rambling talk” reflects the poem he’s immortalised her in and the last line shows that she’s only vaguely remembered.

Thanks for reading,

Jack 

A Chilly Paradise (An analysis of ‘The Cold Heaven’ by W.B. Yeats)

The whole of ‘The Cold Heaven’ is a dramatic metaphor for Yeats’ emotion, having realised that Maud Gonne (the love of his life) will probably never accept him. The poem is a 1st person narrative, with one stanza of free verse. Enjambment makes the poem sound like a rush of thoughts, as does the irregularity of the line lengths, yet this also gives Yeats space to explain his emotions. The fact that the poem itself is short reflects the fact that Yeats now believes life is short, his life has ended now that Gonne has gone. It is made up of one sentence of Yeats looking up at the sky and pondering about unrequited love and then another reflecting on the idea of the afterlife. The poem is in a Romantic style, heavily influenced and inspired by the works of other poets, such as William Blake.

The title itself is a paradox, heaven should be seem warm and gentle, whereas the use of the word “cold” makes it sound harsh. “Cold” is also the equal and opposite to the ‘hot’ of hell. This title immediately shows that Yeats opinion of heaven has changed now he’s lost Gonne, he imagined he would spend eternity with her there, but now it just seems lonely.

The poem brings you straight into the Yeats’ thoughts with the use of the word “Suddenly” and immediately expresses how Yeats’ opinion of heaven has changed as he has lost Gonne, “rook delighting heaven”. The rook is a death omen, which makes it sound like heaven is delighted by death. Yeats also refers to his relationship with Gonne by using an oxymoron:

“ice burned”

This seems doubly torturous, two extremes linking together. This could be interpreted as symbolising the idea that some relationships do not work, such as his relationship with Gonne.

Yeats refers back to the times he had with Gonne, of the “memories” they’d shared. He reflects back on the “hot blood of youth” – showing how he was much more energetic and passionate when he believed Gonne may have loved him back. Now he has realised that this is not the case, he has lost any energy or passion he previously possessed. Yeats also references “love crossed long ago” which could refer to the fact that his love of Gonne just passed her, she didn’t notice it, yet it could be alluding to the ‘star crossed lovers’: Romeo and Juliet in the works of Shakespeare. 

This poem could almost be seen as a symbolisation for sexual purgatory, as Yeats is not able to now engage in sexual activites with Gonne, and so he uses a variety of sexual terms, “hot blood”, “cried and trembled”, “rocked to and fro”.

Yeats questions his faith in the last few lines, suggesting that people only seem to accept things “as the books say” – a reference to the Bible and the strict faith of the Catholics at the time. He then questions God himself, talking about the “injustice of the skies” – almost saying; ‘Who is God to judge us?’. The poem ends with a rhetorical question, which shows that there is no answer to life – only questions.

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Thanks for reading,

Jack