seamus heaney's the wifes tale

1716 WordsMay 22, 20147 Pages
Seamus Heaney employs a great number of poetic devices in order to explore the theme of women in his poem “The Wife’s Tale”. The free-verse piece features in Heaney’s 1969 collection “A Door into the Dark”, is non-rhyming, and is divided into four stanzas of seven, twelve, seven and nine lines respectively. The varying length of verse adds a quirky, idiosyncratic feel and helps to create different levels of focus on the contents of each section. Dealing with Heaney’s perspective on the role of a woman in a rural setting, it is likely to have been based on his mother (the woman he would have been closest to and seen most of whilst growing up, giving him credible scope for writing on this topic) and her experiences in this context. The poem…show more content…
This further makes clear the very rigid relationship between husband and wife or simply man and woman at the time. Superior language is used on the rare occasions when the husband speaks and, while not using a hostile tone of voice, he orders or “tells” rather than “asks” his wife what she should be doing – “give these fellows theirs, I’m in no hurry” “away over there and look”. This displays a confidence (or arguably a cockiness) which comes from being surrounded by his presumed employees and his wife, both of which play roles of servitude in his life and are seen as his inferiors. The husband in this situation can be inferred to be based on Heaney’s father, just as the wife is based on his mother. The husband’s attitude can be looked at in two different means – one might argue that he is patronising and controlling of his wife, as the flippant language used to describe his approach to engaging with her belittles the efforts she has put in to pleasing him – “plucking grass in handfuls and tossing it in the air” “boys like us have little call for cloths”. On the other hand, one might counter that while he does see himself as her superior, this is not done in any malicious or tyrannical way. He gently teases her (suggested by words such as “winked”), and the inequality within the relationship is not bothersome to the woman, probably because this is “just how things were” at the time – the
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