Lady Chudleigh, Mary. “To the Ladies.” The Norton Introduction to Poetry. Ed.
J. Paul Hunter, Allison Booth and Kelly J. Mays. 9th ed. New York: Norton, 2007. 22-23.
The theory that can be recommended to this particular poem "To the Ladies" would be feminism/gender. The definition of feministic criticism is that all men and women are politically, socially, and economically equal. (Bressler 184). Lady Chudleigh addresses the poem and its contents to women, and after spending the first twenty or so lines pointing out how men believe a woman should behave as a wife, she then ends the poem saying to women:
"Value yourselves, and men despise:
You must be proud, if you'll be wise(23-24)."
The poem was written in 1703 and even then it was apparent to women that they were not exactly being treated equal by men who viewed them on a whole as "Wife and servant are the same(1)" Her anger and need for woman enpowerment leads her to say to despise men, according to feminism both should be equal.
1. How does the fact that you know the poem is written to women by a woman affect your opinion of it and it's meaning? If it were written by a man would it change your opinion of the poem?
2. Do you think the time period the poem was written in effects the understanding of the time? Is it shocking? Would the meaning of the poem for women or men change if it had been written in 2008 rather than 1703?
3. Does the stereotypical characterization of female roles in marriage affect the meaning of the poem and of journalism as a whole?