In, Out, In, Out, Shake it all about.

We can see the attitudes to women through the conversation about whether Fanny Price is “in” or “out”. In the Regency period, the time when Austen wrote ‘Mansfield Park’, women were deemed ‘in’ or ‘out’, ‘in’ meaning that you stay at home and are not ready to accept a marriage proposal, whereas ‘out’ meant that you were going to balls and dinners to try and attract the attention of a man to propose to you.

The first idea of girls being ‘out’ is presented in the engagement of Maria Bertram and Mr Rushworth, who “soon fancied himself in love” after attending a “proper number of balls”. We can see that  this is a family affair, with the attitudes of the families and even the public noted: “much to the satisfaction of their respective families, and of the general lookers-on of the neighbourhood, who had, for many weeks past, felt the expediency of Mr Rushworth’s marrying Miss Bertram”. We see here that everyone has an opinion, and wishes for marriage to occur.

We can also see that Maria has not engaged for love, but to climb the social ladder (as I talked about in my last blog post on ‘Mansfield Park’). This is shown through Edmund’s opinion, he saw “a fault in the business” and after talking to Mr Rushworth would say to himself, “If this man had not twelve thousand a year, he would be a very stupid fellow.” However the rest of the family seems delighted, and Sir Thomas believes it to be an “alliance so unquestionably advantageous”. This shows how women were expected by their family to marry well, because their choice reflected on the whole family, and in those days reputation was everything.

Later on a conversation between Mary Crawford and Edmund occurs in which they question whether Fanny is in or out. Mary seems to have the boundaries of in and out very clear, “Till now, I could not have supposed it possible to be mistake as to a girl’s being out or not” and yet she is confused as Fanny does not fit into these boundaries, “I am puzzled. – She dined at the parsonage, with the rest of you, which seemed like being out; and yet she says so little, that I can hardly suppose she is“. Edmund seems to assume that being out is to do with age, “My cousin is grown up. She has the age and sense of a woman.”

Mary then talks about being out or not, and what this should be. For example a girl who isn’t out would wear a “close bonnet” and “never says a word” – which seems like they are just objects standing there and waiting to be out. Mary says that “Girls should be quiet and modest.” which is the attitude of the upper classes to young women at the time. Mary also seems to despise girls who turn to “confidence”, which in our day and age seems ridiculous. She suggests that “One does not like to see a girl of eighteen or nineteen so immediately up to everything” and almost seems to despise girls of this sort. As Mary is a woman we see that this is a general view, it isn’t just old men who are sexist towards young women.

Henry shows the difference between women who are in and out. When a girl, Mr Anderson’s sister, was in, Henry could “hardly get a word or a look from the young lady”. However many months later, she was “then out” and “talked and laughed” a lot. The language Henry uses makes it sound as if this was disgraceful “I felt that I must be the jest of the room.” Edmund remarks that these women who are out “are always acting upon motives of vanity – and there is no more real modesty” almost suggesting that they are immoral. Miss Crawford’s language however suggests this even more, “It is much worse to have girls not out, give themselves the same airs and take the same liberties as if they were,” and goes on to describe it as “quite disgusting” which makes her sound like she is repulsed by the fact, as if these women are somehow whores because they are confident and feel comfortable talking to men. 

Henry decribes another situation with another girl, who appeared to be out as she was “perfectly easy in her manners, and as ready to talk as to listen”. This suggests that only girls who are willing to be married should be allowed to talk. As the girl was given all the attention by Henry and was “not out” the other sister was deeply offended, as was the rest of the family. Mary blames it on the fact that the “governess” not being there, as if all girls who are not out have to be accompanied by a governess to ensure they don’t get attacked by some marriage hungry male. Mary then asks whether Miss Prices goes to “balls” or dines “out everywhere”, and as the answer is a categorical no, then it “is clear, Miss Price is not out.”

Thanks for reading,

Jack

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The Poetry of Yeats under a multitude of Headings

Feminism

Yeats does not appear in his poetry to be a particular feminist, yet we as readers have to realise that in those days it was frowned upon to do so. Yeats was living in a sexist and oppressive time, and seemed to realise that he couldn’t help women through his poetry, writing is not always about truth. However many of his poems suggest that he deeply admired women, and may have simply been a strong advocate for women who struggled to show his opinions in the time that he lived in. The woman he refers to most is Maud Gonne, the love of his life who didn’t love him back. His opinion of Gonne is obviously that of desire, yet also slight bitterness, as she does not love him. Gonne was very feminist, and stood up for women’s rights, and so Yeats most likely supported her views to try and win her affection. Yeats also mentions Constance Markiewicz and Eva Gore-Booth in several of his poems, revolutionary leaders who he seemed to admire deeply (at least enough to write poems specifically about them). Yeats was obsessed with the Occult, which rejected the sexist norms and was very pro equality, thus we can assume that he also took this stance.

A good source of information about Yeats and women:
http://writing.colostate.edu/gallery/phantasmagoria/poehler.htm

Post-Colonialism

To understand how Yeats wrote in a post-colonial style we must first understand definitions of post-colonialism itself. Post-Colonialism can be split into several subjects, though the subject I found that reflected in Yeats’ poetry the most is this:

Social and cultural change or erosion: It seems that after independence is achieved, one main question arises; what is the new cultural identity?

Yeats examines the idea of change very often in his poetry, especially considering change in Ireland and change in people. For example, in ‘September 1913’ Yeats compares the Ireland of 1913 to “Romantic Ireland”, and in ‘Easter 1916’ Yeats compares the “vainglorious lout” of MacBride who abused Gonne to the revolutionary hero – “transformed utterly” from what he was due to his brave and heroic actions. ‘Easter 1916’ is heavily about change, “all changed, changed utterly” and how the revolution has changed the society of Ireland.

Good sources of information about Yeats and Post Colonialism:
http://www.ijstr.org/final-print/sep2012/A-post-colonial-look-Yeats-and-War-Poems.pdf
http://postcolonialstudies.emory.edu/w-b-yeats-and-postcolonialism/

Thanks for reading,
Jack

Early Morning Hanging

An analysis of ‘Half Hanged Mary’ by Margaret Atwood, from 3am to 6am. If you haven’t read my other post on HHM, poke around my blog and you’ll find it eventually (I hope!)

3am

The voice of Webster in this section seems insane yet determined, she has got this far and can’t give in to death now. There’s no punctuation in this section, and no stanza form, to show the confusion in Webster’s mind. Atwood uses lots of repetition, as if Webster is losing her mind and is forgetting what she’s already said:

“Wind seethes in the leaves around

me the tree exude night

birds night birds yell inside”

As well as repetition Atwood uses homonyms and synonyms to suggest Webster’s lack of control of her mind, “I was born I have borne I bear I will be born”.

Atwood uses lots of vivid verbs, yet mainly violent ones, “yell” “stabbed” “clench”, suggesting that Atwood is thinking violently. Despite this, some of the verbs are more gentle, “fluttering”, which contrasts heavily with the violent verbs, insinuating confusion. Some verbs also have connotations with ways of killing witches, “dangle” “drowning” to reiterate the theme of the poem.

6am

The voice of this section is calmer, and talks almost as if Webster is having a timeless out of body experience, “Time is relative,”. The section is split into 6 short stanzas, which shows that Webster has regained control of her mind, she is less confused. 

There are again references to nature, yet Atwood remarks that the sun is “no longer a simile for God” – showing that Webster is questioning her faith (reminding me of Wilfred Owen’s ‘Futility’). Later on, in the fourth stanza of this section Atwood mixes the semantic field of religion and the semantic field of science to show how Webster is doubting everything, “listening to the gospel of the red-hot stars”.

The use of language and punctuation in the stanzas suggest that time is slowing down, like an out of body experience, “when you drift in space”. The use of verbs and abstract nouns highlights the odd, almost hallucinogenic nature of this experiene (reminding me of “Bayonet Charge” by Ted Hughes), “Pinpoints of infinity riddle my brain a revelation of deafness”.

Atwood talks about death, and how Webster hasn’t died physically, her hair hasn’t “turned white”, but she has died spiritually, her “heart” is gone, “bleached out”, suggesting that she has lost all of her love and goodness due to the hate of others.

Atwood writes:

“At the end of my rope”

This is a common feature of Atwood’s poetry in which she twists an idiom. She twists the common idiom ‘at the end of my tether’ which means to get frustrated to refer to the rope that Webster is being hung with. This suggests that Webster may be getting frustrated with life and feels like giving in to the temptation of death, she wants to “testify to silence” – silence being a euphemism for death. Yet in the last two lines of this section Atwood shows that Webster will not give in, saying that she will not only have one death, she “will have two.” The use of language in these last two lines are vain, almost as if Webster is showing off.

Thanks for reading,
Jack