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"The Ruined Maid"

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Alexander Johnson

on 8 January 2014

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Transcript of "The Ruined Maid"

"The Ruined Maid"

Alex Johnson
Andrew DiSalvo
John Thurston

"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 didn't you know I'd been ruined," said she.

--"You left us in tatters, without shoes or socks,
Tired of digging potatoes, and spudding up docks;
And now you've gay bracelets and bright feathers three!" --
"Yes: that's how we dress when we're ruined," said she.

--"At home in the barton you said 'thee' and 'thou,'
And 'thik oon' and 'theäs oon' and 't' other'; but now
Your talking quite fits 'ee for high compa-ny!"--
"Some polish is gained with one's ruin," said she.

--"Your hands were like paws then, your face blue and bleak
But now I'm bewitched by your delicate cheek,
And your little gloves fit as on any la-dy!"--
"We never do work when we're ruined," said she.

--"You used to call home-life a hag-ridden dream,
And you'd sigh, and you'd sock; but at present you seem
To know not of megrims or melancho-ly!"--
"True. One's pretty lively when ruined," said she.

--"I wish I had feathers, a fine 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 ain't ruined," said she.
Amelia - simple country girl turned
Diction - Other Gir
"You said 'thee' and 'thou,' / And 'thik oon' and 'theäs oon' and 't' other'"
"hag-ridden dream"
"Your talking quite fits 'ee for high compa-ny" - other girl
Diction - Amelia
very proper and grammatically correct until, "You ain't ruined"
"The Ruined Maid"
repetition: "ruin" or "ruined," said she."
"maid" - innocent connotation
(virgin) or subservient
connotation (servant)
Historical Context
Their Interaction
Thesis and Meaning
Thomas Hardy (1866)
Amelia, a country girl turned noblewoman, returns to her hometown and runs into somebody she knew there. Her friend expresses some resentment, but gawks at her new status and possessions. Amelia repeatedly plays it down by declaring herself "ruined."
Thomas Hardy utilizes poetic devices, particularly the title, diction, and structure to establish the characters and setting of his poem "The Ruined Maid" in order to present a ruined woman who is not fit for the role assigned to her by society.

highly irregular
flows like a colloquial conversation
almost musical
very deliberate - emphasize the similarities between the two women - the two carry it throughout their conversation - familiarity
Rhyme Scheme - Deliberate and careful
Stanza 6: AABB
repetition - comes full circle - glorifies the country girl at the end - highly
stanzas 2-5 begin in past tense
and transition to present
Their Interaction
Amelia and the other Girl
Women = angel of the house
"ruined" - irony - fails to fit role
"hag-ridden dream" - contrary to idealized role of mothers in society

(Mrs. Tesini)

The Other Girl's Perception of Amelia
Syntax and Punctuation
hyphens -- change in speaker

complete sentences - very few enjambed lines
enjambed lines immediately follow or precede "but"
indicate a change in tone - change in Amelia's lifestyle

"O didn't you know I'd been ruined,"
no punctuation - quick, curt, matter of

Normal, conversational syntax
only inversion serves rhyme - only
used by the narrator
Jealous - Figurative Language
"Your hands were like paws then"
"your little gloves fit as on any la-dy!"
"gay bracelets and bright feathers three"
"I wish I had feathers, a fine sweeping gown, / And a delicate face, and could strut about Town!"
alliteration - every time she lists something
1860s - England, Ireland, or Scotland
"fair garments"
"strut about Town"
"high compa-ny"

The two women meet in "Town"
likely the city
capitalized "Town"
large enough to make it unlikely that they'd meet
Amelia can "strut about Town"
while the other girl
criticism of the societal practice of marrying into wealth - dignity vs. wealth

one's past is always a part of oneself

criticism of the lack of social mobility in the time period

deliberate circular structure in order to display preference for the more moral country girl
Full transcript