I am going to compare the two poems, ‘Cousin Kate’ and ‘The Seduction’. In both poems, the main characters are female and single. In ‘Cousin Kate’ the poet narrates is first person thus adopting the perspective of the young cottage maiden featured but in ‘The Seduction’ the poet narrates in the third person and tells a story, however she does communicate with us the intimate thoughts and feelings of the schoolgirl. ‘Cousin Kate’ begins by setting the scene and so does The Seduction.
The girl in ‘Cousin Kate’ has little or no education and yet seems to have a quite high standard of life whereas the girl in ‘The Seduction’ is about to do her O Levels (G. C. S. E s) and seems under-educated with a poor quality of life. Eileen McAuley (author of ‘The Seduction’) uses idiomatic, conversational speech and is not governed by a rhyming scheme, although one is present. An example of her idiomatic speech would be ‘She was three months gone… ‘ An example of a rhyming scheme would be ‘He spat into the river, fumbled in a bag… nd he muttered “little slag”‘ but on lines 30-32 a half-rhyme is found: – ‘Listerine… Magazines’.
In both poems the poets begin by setting the scene and telling you what has happened previously (a short time beforehand) and both express vividly the emotions of the main characters. For example, in ‘Cousin Kate’, a 19th Century poem, we can pick up that the main character is bitter towards her cousin, Kate, through lines thirty seven and thirty eight: ‘won me with his love nor bought me with his land’.
This could also suggest jealousy, that Kate has a lot of land and she does not, or that Kate is loved, and she is not. ‘Cousin Kate’ was written in the 1800’s and ‘The Seduction’ was written in the 1900’s. In the 1800’s women tenants, like the main character in ‘Cousin Kate’ had no social status and in that period of time there was no legal obligation upon a father to his child. If a woman wanted to she could stop the placement of the fathers name on he birth certificate of the child for any reason, with or without the fathers consent.
If a marriage ended in the 19th Century the woman could rarely marry again because after the break-up she was viewed by other men as the cast-off of another man, and that she was not good enough for another man. And if she did marry again, the new husband would more than likely be looked down upon as a lower being than the previous husband because he took a ‘cast-off’.
‘Cousin Kate’ is a bitter, remorseful poem with a strong sense of emotion and resentment whereas ‘The Seduction’ is what I would call a pity-full, empathetic and sympathetic poem. Cousin Kate’ makes me feel sorry for the main character because of the language she uses like “Now I moan, an unclean thing, who might have been a dove”(Line 15). The poem ‘The Seduction’ makes me want to tell the girl how silly she was to do what she did whilst under the influence of alcohol and not to realise how untrue the boys intentions. It is hinted at that the two only met on the night of the party because there is no name given, no history given and had they known each other beforehand, the girl would have been shown where the boy went when he skipped school previously.
The moral of the story in ‘The Seduction’ would be to be very careful of what you do when you are drunk and take things slowly. When I take into account where this all takes place I am tempted to say that this is a tragic modern tale fed by ambitions and alcohol accessibility. The moral of the story in ‘Cousin Kate’ would be that life is sometimes good and it is sometimes bad and that things can change in the blink of an eye. As it is a poem about a forlorn love, it also tells me that love is a very deep-impacting thing.
It can affect you in so many ways, especially if a child is involved. Christina Rosetti (author of ‘Cousin Kate’) can be described as the narrator of the poem as well as the poet/author. She seems to be remorseful and resentful and induces sympathy from the reader. She tries to make the reader see her point of view whilst she finds fault in her cousin, Kate. She goes into detail about how much she was attached to the lord before he ‘changed her like a glove’ and this indicates to me that love can be unkind and often end in discontent with one of the people feeling used and cast-off.
Eileen McAuley could also be described as a narrator as she tells us what happened from a third-person perspective. She helps us feel the sorrow of the girl ‘seduced’. Eileen McAuley writes in this poem in shocking language – stated so simply, it alarms the reader although in her narrative she gives insight into the girl’s feelings. The content of the poem somewhat contradicts the title. ‘The Seduction’ suggests to me, a planned, romantic, candlelit arrangement.
But in the poem we hear of a solvent-abusing, crafty, smoking and inconsiderate young man who is selfish enough to impregnate a lady about to do important exams and leave her alone with the baby. ‘Cousin Kate’ has a very definite rhythm and rhyming pattern. The pattern can be described as ‘A, B, C, B, D, B, D, B… ‘ Eileen McAuley is not governed by a rhyming pattern. She also uses conversational speech and un-poetic language.