Anne Bradstreet's Criticism of the Male World in Her “the Prologue”

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  • Topic: Irony, Sarcasm, Walter Raleigh
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  • Published : February 16, 2013
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Anne Bradstreet's Criticism of the Male World in her “The Prologue” In her poem the Prologue, Anne Bradstreet sharply criticizes the male world for its unjust prejudice and hostility against the female world and female creativity. In order to criticize the male world, Anne Bradstreet uses such literary devices as irony and sarcasm. The tone of Anne is ironic throughout the poem. Her approach seems to be very polite but behind this polite attitude there lies a biting as well as pointed attack towards the male world. She uses many understatements which are also the mark of her ironic politeness.

In the opening stanza she uses the understatement ‘mean pen’ to indicate her ability. It’s very ironic that she tells us about her inability, though we know that she was the first American woman poet who wrote some finest lyrics. Throughout the first three stanzas, she uses other ironic remarks. She compares herself with the ‘school boys’ and says that her inability is inborn and irreparable.

My foolish, broken, blemished Muse so sings,
And this to mend, alas, no Art is able,
'Cause Nature made it so irreparable.

Though she degrades her position by comparing herself with the school boy, we know that she read Shakespeare, Sir Walter Raleigh and Cervantes. So, it is another example of her ironic politeness.

In the fourth stanza, she contrasts herself with Demosthenes and says that her inability cannot be cured as it is by nature weak and wounded.

Art can do much, but this maxim’s most sure
A weak and wounded brain admits no cure.

Here she directs her attack to the prejudice of the male world that women are by nature ‘weak’. So, she criticized the male prejudice by this polite remark. But in the fifth stanza her criticism becomes open and direct. Here she uses sarcasm in order to criticize the hostility of the male world. She uses such censuring remarks as ‘carping tongue,’ Obnoxious’ in order to show the hostility of the male world. She opines that...