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Love, Sonnets and Songs

Love, Sonnets and Songs.

Mary Wroth’s prose romance, The Countess of Mountgomeries Urania, closely compares with her uncle, Sir Philip Sidney, 1593 edition The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia. Wroth was undoubtedly following her uncle’s lead by trying to emulate Astrophil and Stella. Astrophil and Stella and Pamphilia to Amphilantus are both about being in love and they both have over one hundred sonnets and songs.

After rereading both pieces, I was struck not by their similarities but by their differences. For example, Stella is assertive and Pamphilia is passive. Stella is truly bound by her love for Astrophil while Pamphilia cannot break herself free from the love she feels forAmphilantus. Sidney creates a female beauty that retains her voice and speaks, whereas Wroth allows her woman to remain inactive and vulnerable. However, Wroth no longer allows the female to be the object. She gives the female a voice and she is now the speaking subject. Pamphilia remains inactive and unfulfilled but very patient.

A good question for the reader to ask oneself is why would Wroth not establish a strong female speaking subject like the one she was trying to imitate? Wroth was the first woman writer in England to publish a romance and a sonnet sequence. She was by no means conservative or cared about what people thought of her, which has been proved by the antics of her personal life. So why not establish that same woman character/speaking voice in her prose? I would like now to look at the similarities and differences of Stella and Pamphilia.

First, Philip Sidney and his female character Stella. Stella has a voice and does speak, however, she speaks in the songs and not the sonnets themselves. We see in the first two lines in each stanza of the Eleventh Song, Stella speaking and Astrophil answering her.

Who is it that this dark night

Underneath my window plaineth?

It is one who from they sight

Being (ah) exiled, disdaineth

Every other vulgar light.

Because she is not granted a sonnet, the standpoint that women are not allowed a voice has some truth to it. Another standpoint is the way the women are viewed. Women are viewed by their physical aspects. For example, in sonnet 7, the speaker states:

When Nature make her chief work, Stella’s eyes

In color black why wrapped she beams so bright?

Childhood, Politics, and Satire in The Child in Time

Childhood, Politics, and Satire in The Child in Time

For most children there is a strong desire never to grow up. This ‘Peter Pan’ complex has a large impact on most children and therefore very many adults later in life. Many of the images in The Child in Time are related to this desire, and the title is possibly directly related to the concept.

Kate is the first example of this eternal youth. She is not killed by any significant event – she does not succumb to a disease nor is she struck my an unfortunate accident – instead, during what would be a completely standard and banal trip to the supermarket she is abducted. There is not really a feeling that she has been lost for a reason; she disappears without notice or any provocation. Kate achieves this dream – the desire to be a child always, and it is as she, where others had not been so fortunate, had managed to wish hard enough to allow childhood to surrounded her so completely that she could not be touched by the exterior world. Kate becomes a child forever, as the title suggests, she exists as much, or more, as a ‘child in time’ as an actual person, living and growing. To Stephen she will always be the child she was when he last saw her, and her only growth can be achieved by superimposing on her personality a stereotyped caricature of what a child her age would be – a child hoping for a walkie-talkie set for her birthday – without her own eccentricities, or personal characteristics.

When Stephen tries to recapture Kate, in the scene in the primary school, he too is overwhelmed by childhood. Without thinking he is drawn into a lesson and becomes a stereotyped student until he is able to break out of this strange reality and return to …

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…f Nuclear apocalypse without moving, except for another drink. He does seem actively very eager not to address his unhappiness at Kate’s abduction, even to the lengths that he takes up Arabic and Tennis. Both Tennis and Arabic, however, seem associated with youth – tennis as a game played whilst still young, and active – though Stephen finds he is not really active enough to play; and Arabic, which he views as to be learnt in a very scholastic manner – he calls his tutor be his surname, and does not speak to him about anything but the lesson at hand.

McEwan portrays childhood as a very powerful and important force, and The Child In Time focuses on someone for whom this is especially potent. He seems to try to highlight different views of childhood, through time and between political theories, using The Child In Time as a reasonable successful satire.

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