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Throughout the history of literature, the portrayal and treatment of women have been significant themes. In this essay, we will explore two poems, "A Stone’s Throw" and "The Woman Who Speaks To The Man Who Has Employed Her Son," which provide contrasting perspectives on the treatment of women. These poems employ various literary devices to shed light on the attitudes of their respective speakers towards women, and they utilize Biblical allusions to underscore the treatment of women in society. Through an in-depth analysis of these poems, we will uncover the complex dynamics of gender and treatment that they present.
In "A Stone’s Throw," the speaker's attitude towards women is marked by negativity, condescension, judgment, and disrespect. The poem vividly depicts a crowd of self-righteous men who fervently desire to stone and condemn an indecent prostitute. The speaker himself is part of this mob, and he justifies his actions as righteous. The mob is eager to brutalize the woman, and they describe their actions as "nothing much," emphasizing their cruelty.
The speaker continuously justifies his brutality towards the woman by claiming it as an act of "justice" and even suggests that he finds pleasure in it, saying, "For justice must be done specially when it tastes so good." However, the intervention of a "guru, preacher, God-merchant, God-knows-what" interrupts their actions. The speaker responds to this interruption with scorn and implies that such figures should never speak to "them," referring condescendingly to women and prostitutes.
On the other hand, in "The Woman Who Speaks To The Man Who Has Employed Her Son," the speaker's attitude towards women, particularly the mother, is more sympathetic, respectful, admiring, and compassionate.
The poem revolves around a single mother lamenting her son's involvement in a life of crime. The mother's love for her child is profound, as she carried him "full term tight up under her heart" and had unwavering faith in his potential.
She set no limits on what her son could achieve, hoping he would become a doctor, earth healer, or pilot. The mother's love and support for her child are evident, and she raised him twice—first as a mother and then as a father—due to the absence of the child's father. Despite her son's decision to work for an employer involved in criminal activities, the mother's concern and love for him remain unwavering.
An essential literary device employed in both poems to illustrate the treatment of women is the use of Biblical allusions. These allusions draw parallels between the events in the poems and stories from the Bible, highlighting the mistreatment of women in both ancient and modern times.
In "A Stone’s Throw," the poem alludes to the Bible, specifically John chapter 8, verses 5-7, where Jesus stops a crowd of men from stoning a prostitute. The Biblical allusion underscores the cruelty and hypocrisy of the mob's treatment of the woman in the poem. While the prostitute in the Bible was spared by Jesus, the men in the poem justify their barbaric actions as "justice," emphasizing the unjust treatment of women.
Similarly, in "The Woman Who Speaks To The Man Who Has Employed Her Son," various Biblical allusions are present. The poem alludes to figures such as "Judas Iscariot's mother," "the thief on the left-hand side of the cross," and "Absalom." These allusions connect the mother's plight to stories of betrayal, rebellion, and sacrifice in the Bible, revealing the hardships and suffering experienced by women.
While both poems address the treatment of women, they present contrasting perspectives and attitudes. "A Stone’s Throw" paints a bleak picture of women's treatment, characterized by cruelty, judgment, and disrespect. The speaker in this poem embodies the negative and condescending attitude prevalent in society.
Conversely, "The Woman Who Speaks To The Man Who Has Employed Her Son" offers a more sympathetic and compassionate portrayal of women, particularly the mother. The speaker recognizes the mother's strength, love, and unwavering support for her son, despite his involvement in criminal activities.
The use of Biblical allusions in both poems is significant as it highlights the enduring nature of mistreatment and injustice towards women. These allusions draw parallels between the past and present, showcasing that women's struggles persist across different time periods.
Through the lens of Biblical stories, the poems emphasize the need for societal change and the recognition of the inherent value and dignity of women. They challenge the prevailing negative attitudes and actions towards women, urging readers to reflect on the treatment of women in their own lives and society.
In conclusion, the poems "A Stone’s Throw" and "The Woman Who Speaks To The Man Who Has Employed Her Son" shed light on the treatment of women through divergent attitudes and the use of Biblical allusions. While "A Stone’s Throw" portrays a harsh and condescending treatment of women, "The Woman Who Speaks To The Man Who Has Employed Her Son" offers a more sympathetic and respectful perspective. Both poems underscore the enduring nature of mistreatment towards women and call for a reevaluation of societal attitudes and actions. Through these literary works, we are reminded of the ongoing struggle for gender equality and the importance of recognizing the worth of every woman.
In exploring the treatment of women in these poems, it is evident that literature continues to be a powerful medium for addressing societal issues and challenging established norms. As we reflect on the words of these poets, may we strive for a world where the dignity and rights of women are upheld and celebrated.
With a renewed commitment to gender equality and justice, we can hope for a future where the treatment of women is characterized by respect, empathy, and fairness.
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