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Lady Chapernell

1 Pages 351 Words

Lady Chudleigh’s 16th century poem To the Ladies, instructs a woman to reflect long and hard on the word “Obey” when vowing her heart, hand and life in marriage. She indicates that a woman will lose not only her autonomy, but must also forgo all rights to her own ideas, personality, and her sense of humor.
In line 1, the speaker declares that the status of a wife and servant are the same in the eyes of a husband. This is a commonly accepted view for the early 1700’s, and in some ways, is as true now as then. However, women of today have more equality in marriage than did women of that time, including the option of divorce which was then frowned upon if sought by either party, though was more accepted when asked for by the husband. At present, little thought is given to the state of divorce, no matter the number of times, or the reason for divorce.
Line 3 announces that marriage is a “fatal knot”, telling the female reader that marriage can be compared to death, for as one descends into final darkness, there is no return. In this way, the writer warns women that once a man has taken his place as husband, he will see himself as king or god, or if the wedding is death and marriage is Hell, then he may assume the role of Satan. He may torment his wife by making rules and forcing his wife to obey them without question. The woman is left no freedom but that which she remembers from her maidenhood.
The poet implores women to shun men and marriage. This is an uncommon view of women in any century, for women are taught from an early age that marriage and procreation is their purpose in life. A woman is seen as excessively independent or not womanly if she shuns marriage. A man who takes this same view is a confirmed bachelor, and is regarded as somewhat odd, but smart to do so....

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