Both the beggar woman and the seduction deal with attitudes towards women and love, and the relationship between the sexes. In this essay I am going to explore these ideas and look at the similarities of the two poems although they were written over 100 years apart. The beggar woman was written in the 17th century by William king, and Eileen McAuley wrote the seduction in the 1980’s.
The beggar woman is a poem about a man who goes hunting and comes across a beggar woman who he finds attractive, he then asks the beggar woman into the woods with him, she agrees but instead of having sex with him she leaves him with her baby to look after to teach him a lesson. The seduction is about a girl who goes to a party and falls in love with a boy, he takes her down to the docks where he gets her drunk to have sex with her, as a result of this she gets pregnant.
The two poems are similar as they both portray women as the sex although, in the beggar woman, the woman turns the tables and becomes the stronger character. I did not expect the poems to be as similar as they are because of the time gap in between their creation; both the poems deal with the themes of attitudes towards women, love and the relationship of the sexes making them very similar. The mood of both the poems is uncomfortable from the start. Both the poems have an unpleasant atmosphere. The moods of the poems are different because the beggar woman is more light-hearted than the seduction.
The Beggar Woman
In the beggar woman the mood is jolly, this created with rhyming couplets, and this in turn makes the serious point have more impact, although in the last few lines the mood changes to more serious mood as the message of the poem becomes apparent. The mood in the seduction changes from a happy, jolly mood when the characters are at the party to a more sombre mood, when the boy and the girl go to the docks. Then the mood changes again at the pivotal point in the poem where the girl finds she is pregnant, it’s here that the mood becomes dark and angry, which causes the reader to sympathise with the girl because she is alone and pregnant.
I don’t think the moods of the poems relate although they deal with the same issues the beggar woman tries to bring across these ideas in a comical mood where as the seduction treats the issues with more stern seriousness. The characters in both the seduction and the beggar woman are very similar. In the beggar woman the female is portrayed as weak at the beginning of the poem just like the girl in the seduction although, the female character in the beggar woman becomes powerful towards the end of the poem unlike the female in the seduction as you can see from this quote “And she ripped up all her My Guy and her Jackie photo-comics
Until they were just bright paper, like confetti,” This shows that the girl is still the weaker sex as she is hiding behind dreams of weddings and romance even when she finds she is pregnant it’s as if she is trying to forget she’s pregnant and go back to being a little girl dreaming of romance. The female in the beggar woman seems similar to the girl in the seduction but as she becomes powerful near the end of the poem you see that she is different to the girl in the seduction because, she knows what she is doing and shows that she has knowledge of how the world works and doesn’t hide dreams of a young girl.
The men in both the poems appear powerful. The man in the beggar woman’s power is symbolised by him ridding the horse in front of the woman, instead of letting her ride or walk alongside him also at the time in history the poem was written men had the right to demand the services of women at any time, especially if the woman was of a lower class than the man, also the poem refers to the woman as game, this is shown in the quote: “For he himself had other game in view:”
The word “game” is a hunting metaphor making the woman sound like prey for the man. The male in the seduction remains the powerful all the way through the poem he is similar to the man in the beggar woman as he shares the same views on women and how they should be treated this can be seen in the quote: “She giggled drunk and nervous, and he muttered ‘little slag’” This shows he only wants the girl for sex and that he doesn’t feel that women have equal rights as men.
Both the beggar woman and the seduction are third person narrative, this means that the narrator should give an equally balanced view on all characters in the poem using he/she/they; although both the beggar woman and the seduction are biased they are both in favour of the woman. The beggar woman is biased towards the female out of pity because of the way she is treated by the man then at the end of the poem her actions are applauded, the poem its self would most likely have been ignored if it had been written by a woman because of the era in which it was written where women were the weaker sex.
The seduction is also biased towards the female because all the feeling of the girl are shown in her actions where as after the pivotal point in the poem the boy isn’t mentioned, also the boy is made to look bad by his comment on the girl where he calls her a ‘little slag’ and how he gets her drunk to have sex with her. Both the beggar woman and the seduction are narrative poems. This means that they tell a story, this makes them more entertaining so people will read them.
The beggar woman has rhyming couplets making a comic style, which adds impact when the moral of the story becomes apparent at the pivotal point in the poem. The seduction is written in four line verses with the second and fourth lines rhyming, the rhyme scheme for the seduction is ABCB this is a ballad rhyme scheme. The seduction is story like, making it easy to read also the fact that it follows a chronological sequence through the girls’ life making it easy to read.