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Poem #2 and Author The Affinity By: Anna Wickham I have to thank God I'm a woman, For in these

ordered days a woman only Is free to be very hungry, very lonely. 4It is sad for Feminism, but still clear That man, more often than woman, is pioneer. If I would confide a new thought, First to a man must it be brought. 9Now, for our sins, it is my bitter fate That such a man wills soon to be my mate, And so of friendship is quick end: When I have gained a love I lose a friend. 13It is well within the order of things That man should listen when his mate sings; But the true male never yet walked Who liked to listen when his mate talked. 17I would be married to a full man, As would all women since the world began; But from a wealth of living I have proved I must be silent, if I would be loved. 21Now of my silence I have much wealth, I have to do my thinking all by stealth. My thoughts may never see the day; My mind is like a catacomb where early Christians pray. 24 And of my silence I have much pain, But of these pangs I have great gain; For I must take to drugs or drink, Or I must write the things I think. 28If my sex would let me speak, I would be very lazy and most weak; I should speak only, and the things I spoke Would fill the air awhile, and clear like smoke. 32The things I think now I write down, And some day I will show them to the Town. When I am sad I make thought clear; I can re-read it all next year. 36I have to thank God I'm a woman, For in these ordered days a woman only Is free to be very hungry, very lonely.

Analysis of Close Reading

In the poem The Affinity, Anna Wickham uses irony, rhyme, and repetition to criticize the restrictions of society on women; she wistfully hopes for independence and the right to speak for herself, but then remarks on the hopelessness of such thoughts in a world dominated by men. Wickhams use of sarcasm throughout the poem serves to condemn society while still upholding a light tone. This is apparent right from the beginning; the title The Affinity means the agreement, which is exactly the opposite of what she is trying to say. She is not agreeing with her gender confines; instead she is convicting society for enacting such regulations. This creates an ironic mood that continues through the rest of the poem, almost as if Wickham is laughing at her misfortune the entire time. She both begins and ends the poem with, I have to thank God Im a woman,/For in these ordered days a woman only/Is free to be very hungry, very lonely (1-3). This is an oxymoronic statement, as one would not thank God for such things and one would not be free if hungry and lonely. Through this humor Wickham expresses the consequences of female inequality. She castigates the social restrictions that inhibit women from living for themselveshungryand finding happinesslonely (3). Continuing this trend, Wickham states that, It is sad for Feminism, but still clear/That man, more often than woman, is pioneer (4-5). It is ironic she admits that feminism is failing when her poem is about feminism, but that only stresses her viewpoint more by drawing attention from readers to her words. This also shows the hopelessness in womens efforts to gain equality. By turning away from the obvious feminist argument through sarcasm and wit, Wickham is able to state her opinions with an even stronger appeal. Wickham also uses repetition and rhyme to tie her poem together. Noted earlier, the first stanza is repeated at the end of the poem; this repetition provides cohesiveness and power to her views by creating a full-circle effect. After listing the many misfortunes of a woman, Wickham reminds her readers once again of an ironic truththat a God given trait has only led to freedom in the worst of things. By ending the poem on that note, she creates a mood that is filled with dark amusement. Rhyme is critically important in developing her

viewpoint as well. The poem follows an AABB rhyme scheme. Not only does this maintain cohesiveness but it also acts as a question-answer structure. For example, Wickham first states, If my sex would let me speak, which develops tension, before following with, I would be very lazy and most weak (28-29). She is able to state the implications of social restrictions on women while also developing her own independent voice; her questions are an output for her expressions of the problem while the answers show how her thoughts are denied by societys truths. This is apparent in lines 15-16 as well, where Wickham writes, But the true male never yet walked/ Who liked to listen when his mate talked. Through this question-answer mechanic, she effectively portrays the evils of a male-dominated society, where wishes of a good spouse in the question are dashed by the truth of reality in the answer. The themes of The Affinity are incredibly similar to those in Jane Austens Persuasion. Anne Elliot was torn from her love with Captain Wentworth due to the fact that the latter did not have money or a strong social background. Similarly, Wickham remarks the hopelessness of a happy marriage, where there is no true male that will listen to his wifes opinions, showing how women are tied down by societys expectations for marriage as a union for wealth and not love (15). In Persuasion the best example would be Mrs. Smith, who crippled by a debt passed down to her by her deceased husband. Austen and Wickham also have very similar tones and writing styles in their respective pieces of literature. Both use wit, humor, and irony to take a stand for feminism. For Anne and Wickham, this expresses their dejected, biting tones and strong inner voice stifled by society, such as when the former is persuaded against many of her own desires. Through their writing, Austen and Wickham both condemn the same fact that women are bound by societys restrictions, unable to speak independently and love freely.