English Literature - Unit 2 - Th Ruined Maid

The Ruined Maid - What is the poem about?
A young country girl bumps into her friend Melia in the street when she's in town. Melia used to be a farm labourer but now she's a prostitute. Melia says that her life has changed now that she's ruined. The country girl wishes she have her lifestyle
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The Ruined Maid - Form
The poem is a dramatic dialogue. The poet builds up an impression of a lively conversation through the rhythm. It's in ballad form so it sounds quite light-hearted. The poem has strict rhyming couplets - could represent the strict rules of society.
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The Ruined Maid - Structure
At the start of the conversation, we don't know how Melia got her riches - the reader is naive like the country farm girl. As the conversation progresses, we gradually get the full story.
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The Ruined Maid - Contrast
The har life of the country labourer is clearly contrasted with Melia's new lifestyle as a prostitute. Her former life is defined by tattered clothes, rude speech and barely-human features. This is contrasted with her new clothes and eloquent speech.
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The Ruined Maid - Ambiguity
The idea of being ruined is ambiguous. It can mean morally ruined like a prostitute or being poor. Melia seems proud of being morally ruined because it has allowed her to rise out of poverty. Seems to mock that it's better to be moral and poor.
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The Ruined Maid - Natural Speech
Rural speech is written phonetically to emphasise the change in Melia's speech. It's ironic that Melia uses rural speech at the end - she hasn't lost her lower social status.
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The Ruined Maid - Feelings and attitudes in the poem
Jealousy...Pride - Melia brags about her new wealth. She's quite patronising to the country girl and seems to look down on her material poverty. Melia values material possessions over moral codes of behaviour...Depression
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The Ruined Maid - Why could both these women be seen as "ruined"?
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The Ruined Maid - What do you think the poem suggests about the position of women in Victorian society?
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The Ruined Maid - How does the poem suggest male control over women?
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The Ruined Maid - Why do you think that the country girl doesn't have a name?
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The Ruined Maid - What could you compare this poem to?
The song-like ballad form of this poem links to other poems in the cluster. You could compare it to the repeated name refrain in 'Brendon Gallacher' or the chorus of irritated shoppers in 'Singh Song!'
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The Ruined Maid - What is the effect of "'O didn't you know I'd been ruined?' said she."
Melia always has the last word in the conversation - seems proud to be ruined.
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The Ruined Maid - What is the effect of the repetition of "said she."?
Repetition - gives the poem a song-like, light-hearted quality.
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The Ruined Maid - What is the effect of "-'At home in the barton you said "thee" and "thou", And "thik oon", and "theas oon", and "t'other"; but now"
Rural accent written phonetically - contrasts with the more eloquent language of high society.
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The Ruined Maid - What is the effect of "-'Your hands were like paws then,.......bewitched by your delicate cheek,"?
Image compares her to an animal. She used to look barely human. Now she's beautiful but it seems a bit like a spell of illusion.
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The Ruined Maid - What is the effect of "-'You used to call home-life a hag-ridden dream,"?
This nightmarish image contrasts with the illusion of Melia's glamourous new life.
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The Ruined Maid - What is the effect of "ain't" on the last line?
Irony - her language reminds us of where she's come from.
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Card 2

Front

The Ruined Maid - Form

Back

The poem is a dramatic dialogue. The poet builds up an impression of a lively conversation through the rhythm. It's in ballad form so it sounds quite light-hearted. The poem has strict rhyming couplets - could represent the strict rules of society.

Card 3

Front

The Ruined Maid - Structure

Back

Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4

Front

The Ruined Maid - Contrast

Back

Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5

Front

The Ruined Maid - Ambiguity

Back

Preview of the front of card 5
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