A Comparison between The Seduction and Cousin Kate
The two poems I will be comparing in this essay are “Cousin Kate” by Christina Rossetti and “The seduction” by Eileen McCauley. Both poems talk about love, betrayal and heartbreak. “The seduction” is about teenage romance. A girl meets a boy at a party, they both get heavily drunk and the boy ends up taking advantage and getting her pregnant. “Cousin Kate” is about a cottage maiden falling in love with a great Lord. She is deeply in love but then the Lord betrays her and woos her cousin. In both poems, there is heartbreak. I will be comparing the language, tone, mood and the content between the two poems. The Seduction’ is written in third person.
This allows the reader to understand and feel the girl’s feelings and actions. “The Seduction” is about a girl getting so drunk and falling for the wrong guy. He doesn’t care about her and calls her a “little slag”. He just wants to have sex with her and leave her. As she got more and more drunk, she got more vulnerable, “As he brought her more drinks, so she fell in love”. He became more attractive and her judgment of him went, she fell for him. He gives her “sweet paint thinner”, to lure her, so much to the point where her head rolled forward and she had no control.
The writer uses a rhythm, a beat to describe, “All high white shoes, all wide blue eyes”. This is an effective device because it creates imagery and makes it sound like she is reflecting back on the shameful past. She seems uncomfortable with the situation when he kisses her, “And she stifled a giggle… ” This makes the audience feel uncomfortable as well. The poem has a dark and sinister atmosphere and ton as the poem progresses. She discovered that she was pregnant, “When she discovered she was three moths gone… ” The man who she had sex with and spent her days near the river with had got her pregnant and left her.
The mood was happy and playful at the beginning of the poem, “She had nodded, quite enchanted, and her eyes were wide and bright”. This phrase makes the love sound quite genuine and like a teenage romance. The word “enchanted” makes the girl sound very interested in the guy, however later on we find out that it was all down to the alcohol. In this poem, the man is more dominant. I know this because the poem uses phrases like, “He led her… ” and “So she followed him there… ” She is very naive in the poem. When she gets pregnant, this girl rips up all her My Guy and Jackie magazines.
It is almost like she wants to destroy the memories of her innocence and stupidity, “So she cried that he had missed all the innocence around her… ” The writer also uses enjambment, she puts the line “… like confetti, strewn” and “On the carpet… ” on different lines. This is effective to show the contrast from the first line which describes confetti to be a celebratory thing and the second line to show that there is no celebration, in fact the confetti was all over the floor. In “Cousin Kate”, the cottage maiden is also very naive and simple, “Not mindful I was fair”, just like the character in “The Seduction”.
They are both betrayed by their lovers. The poems show how society has changes because in “The Seduction”, it talks about sex more openly than “Cousin Kate”. Both poems show how the male is more dominant. In “Cousin Kate”, the Lord pulled her in, “He lured me… ” He drew her in the same way the man in “The Seduction” drew her in. The Lord wooed her but then left her for the cottage maiden’s cousin. The cottage maiden almost wishes she hadn’t been discovered by the Lord, “Why did a great lord find me out? ” She repeats this line to emphasize just how upset and confused she was, she didn’t have and answer.
She regrets ever knowing the Lord after what he put her through, just like how the girl in “The Seduction” feels after she discovered she is pregnant, “Where were the glossy photographs of summer… ” She is looking back at her magazines crying and wishing she could do those wonderful things instead of being pregnant. The men in both poems have no feelings for the women, the lord didn’t care, “He changed me like a glove… ” and in “The Seduction” the man describes her as a “little slag”.
The tone, like in the other poem is happy and exciting at first, “Why did a great lord find me out To fill my heart with care… this shows she had feelings for him and was in love, it was happy and romantic. However, in the second paragraph the tone and atmosphere turns dark and cold, this is when the audience realizes that the Lord is a player, he wore her like “a silken knot” and changed her “like a glove”. The use of oxymorons, “… shameless shameful… ” imply that even though she feels ashamed, there is a part of her that didn’t really care, she had no shame. The writer describes the cottage maiden as “a dove”, a pure virgin, but then she changes into an “unclean thing”.
She makes the Lord sound dirty and disgusting for having sex with her. Later on in the poem, the main character in “Cousin Kate” feels betrayed and hurt, just like the girl in “The Seduction”. The cottage maiden feels anger towards her cousin, “Your love was writ in sand… ” This creates imagery about a tide washing away something written in sand, I can see it disappearing just like Kate’s love. The cottage maiden is very self pitying, I can tell this because she uses words like, “moan” and “howl”. In some ways the Lord was just like the guy in “The Seduction”.
They both meant so much to the girls yet the girls meant nothing to them, both poems acknowledge gender inequality and how the man is higher than the woman. Rossetti also uses class issues in her poem; the lord is “great” and “high” whereas the girl is a “cottage maiden” She is of lower class than him. The line, “O Lady Kate, My cousin Kate,” shows the narrator sees Kate as two different personalities, Lady Kate, who stole the Lord from the maiden and cousin Kate who was supposed to be related to her, who was not supposed to be with the Lord. When the Lord falls for the girl’s cousin, the mood of the poem turns so jealous.
She compares herself to Kate, “You grew more fair than I” This shows how insecure she is about herself and how she is very envious of Kate. At other times, she is angry at the Lord, “I would have spit into his face. ” This shows how the atmosphere changes from jealousy to sadness to even anger. In “The Seduction”, the girl feels more upset than angry, unlike “Cousin Kate”, “She sobbed in the cool, locked darkness of her room. ” Both poems talk about what people are going to think of them.
In “Cousin Kate” the cottage maiden says, “The neighbors call you good and pure, Call me an outcast thing. , and in “The Seduction” the girl says, “… the neighbors whisper that ‘you always looked the type’. ” Both poems talk about what society is going to think, both girls are ashamed of their actions. Also, when the cottage maiden falls pregnant she is quite smug and uses her baby to an advantage, “Yet I’ve a gift you have not got… ” She tries to make the Lord feel bad that Kate cannot ever have a baby; she uses her arrogance to an advantage. In contrast, in “The Seduction”, the girl is upset and does not want her baby; she sobs and rips up all her lying cheating magazines.
In conclusion, the poems compare how society has changed. In “Cousin Kate”, the girl was a cottage maiden wooed by a great Lord. However later on, in “The Seduction”, the guy and girl are partying and drinking alcohol reading teenage magazines and smoking “scented drugs”. The poems are different because “Cousin Kate” is written from the cottage maiden’s point of view which gives us a more emotional view but “The Seduction” is from a narrator’s point of view. Both poems are about love and betrayal. The girls both fall for the wrong man and end up getting hurt.
The great Lord cheats on the fair cottage maiden with her cousin. The man in “The Seduction” gets the innocent girl pregnant and then leaves her. However, the girl feels sad about her baby, but in “Cousin Kate” the girl uses the baby to her advantage and is quite smug about it because she knows her cousin cannot have a baby. “The Seduction” starts off on a sinister and harsh sentence, “He led her to the quiet bricks of the Birkenhead docks. ”
The writer creates such tone by using the “k” sound throughout the sentence. However, “Cousin Kate” starts off on a happy sentence, “Contented with my cottage mates… Cousin Kate also finishes on a happy note because she talks about how she has a son and Kate doesn’t she rubs it in Kate’s face for all the things she had put her cousin through. “The Seduction” on the other hand ends with, “Better to starve yourself, like a sick precocious child… ” She would rather starve than have a baby. In my opinion, I prefer the poem, “Cousin Kate” because she stands up for herself and acts proud. She doesn’t hide away like the girl in “The Seduction”. The cottage maiden curses her cousin and the Lord for putting her through hell but in the girl in “The Seduction” just hides away in her room, ripping up magazines.
I also find the girl in “The Seduction” very unbelievably innocent; she is easily led and lured and doesn’t stick up for herself. She keeps referring back to the past and going over it, regretting it even though she cannot change it. I like poems when they are in first person because I feel like I can relate to it better and understand emotions well. “Cousin Kate” is in first person so I can really relate to the character; I knew exactly what was going through her mind. “The Seduction” was too much focused on the media and alcohol and smoking, which I didn’t like.
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