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Maia Gelerter

Mrs. Mann

AP Literature Block 2

29 April 2019

Effort in Relationships

Marriage, in theory, is the uniting of two paths together as one. Two people’s separate

journey becoming the same, with a common destination reached together, prioritizing the unit

above any hardship faced. The speaker of Elizabeth Stoddard’s poem, The Wife Speaks, feels

this way as well while she struggles with a failing marriage, asking her husband a series of

questions while begging him to try and make their relationship work, and ultimately showing the

speaker’s attitude towards marriage as something worth fighting for, as long as both parties are

willing to make the effort.

The first part of the poem begins with the speaker asking her husband to reminisce on the

day they were married: “to-day could you and I behold/The sun that brought us to our bridal

morn”. The speaker wants to remember a better time than the one she and her husband are

currently going through as she tries to cope with the difficult times the two experience. She

includes a metaphor of a “great temple of the double soul”, acting as the husband and wife’s

souls, united. This image of a temple shows how highly the speaker regards marriage; to her, it is

something sacred and worthy of the effort necessary to keep it in good condition. The speaker

then hopes that they will be able to reach a working relationship, asking if the shades could

“vanish from these fifteen years”. Like the spirits disappearing, she wants the dysfunctionality of

the relationship to dissipate as well. Stoddard’s speaker then refers to her and her husband as
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“old as Adam and as sweet as Eve”, furthering the religious imagery and showing how the

speaker views the marriage as something sacred and as old as the beginning of humanity. With

this imagery in mind, she asks of her husband to “[t]ake [her], as [she] once took [him], and once

more go/towards that goal which none of us have reached?” The speaker wants nothing but to

honor their promises made at their marriage to try and make their situation work.

The speaker then transitions into a reminder of everything she and her husband agreed to

at their wedding by discussing various aspects of a marriage. In fights, “[t]he victor [will be]

vanquished by the wounded one” -- no matter who wins an argument, they will always lose

because the other isn’t happy. “[S]acrifice of self”, “true immolation” is another component of

marriage -- the idea of personal sacrifice for the greater good of the relationship. “Learning the

joys of birth, the woe of death” -- going through the trials of life as a team, understanding how

chaotic and messy life can be, yet “with courage pressing on”. Together, the two are supposed to

face these struggles as a unit and not as two individuals; nothing is about only one person in

marriage, and hardships must be faced with a mentality that views the solution to their problems

as the couple emerging from issues stronger than they were before. The speaker asks her husband

to realize the harder parts of marriage and having a life partner, and understand that prevailing

through them constitutes a strong relationship.

The speaker then moves on to a more resigned approach. With a hint of sarcasm, she asks

her husband if he would rather stay in a dysfunctional marriage. If his answer is yes, she will

give in to “life’s desert” and remain in the dysfunctional marriage, ending her attempts to

improve the condition of their depressing situation. With the imagery of something as desolate

and harsh as a desert, the speaker shows how bleak life seems in the relationship’s current state.
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As they begin to grow old, they essentially wait out the end of the relationship, “[c]alm as those

statues in Egyptian sands”. By comparing them to statues, the speaker shows that if they choose

to not put in the effort necessary, they will stay as unmoving and stiff as the stone that statues are

created from as they near the end of their lives. With her final effort, the speaker asks her

husband if he would “[w]ait for a future which contains no past?”. This question demonstrates

how pointless the speaker views giving up on the relationship as, just hoping for their

relationship to start working one day, with no evidence that it ever will. As the tone of this

concluding section switches, the speaker seems to be begging her husband, with the final

question being especially sarcastic, as if she wants to scare him by showing him how dismal life

would look without the effort being made.

Throughout the poem, Stoddard’s speaker asks a series of questions to her husband,

setting the poem up as a sort of argument to him for fixing their dysfunctional marriage. By

asking these questions, the speaker shows her attitude towards how working marriages should

work and how their relationship falls short. The speaker wants them to work together in order to

overcome the hardships of life and the differences in their relationship in the hopes that they will

never have to give up, choosing to do nothing and wait life out in an unhappy situation.
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Account of Revisions


Explain, in detail, the changes you made. Include Why did this change need to take place?
quotations/examples to make the revisions apparent to (How did it improve the clarity, coherence, style, effect,
the reader. ​Make sure your revisions are both small focus, etc. of your words?)
and large scale.

I tried to talk more about the shift in tone and why the This was important because the shift in tone really
shift in tone works and happens in the poem in the final helped develop the speaker’s attitude toward marriage
paragraph. and I needed to discuss it more in order to get my
message across. I wasn’t doing it justice with the way I
had discussed it before.

I tried to refer to the elements by name, so I included Again, this was important because the imagery
imagery and discussed it more. For example, inthe first furthered the idea of the poem and in order for that to
paragraph when I talked about temples and shades I come across in my essay I needed to discuss it further.
tried to emphasize those words more and the fact that
they were imagery.

Explanation of Writer’s Workshop Group’s Effect on the Final Draft:

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Directions: How did meeting with your group to discuss the three essays impact the final draft? Include
specifics about who suggested changes that you think helped you draft a better end product, what the
suggested changes were, and why you ultimately took that peer’s advice.

I think for this draft, it was good to read it out loud to my group because the first draft was pretty messy, I
wasn’t really taking my time with it. Ian and Chinmayi especially suggested that I just clean up some of
the language to make it clearer and less clunky when reading it, which I agreed with, so I did that in my
essay. They also talked about how my ideas were good, they just needed to be furthered, especially with
the imagery. I ended up doing this because it helped me build my argument up better, so I’m satisfied
with that advice.