Home of Mercy

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Home of Mercy extended response.

Harwood’s ‘Home of Mercy’ focuses on the ideas of oppression, youth and punishment by using an abundance of literary and poetic techniques. All of the above highlight the strict and rigorous nature of the Catholic Church, thus portraying Catholicism in a negative manner.

Oppression through the perversion of the Christian doctrine is one of the key themes in the sonnet. The first description that the reader gets of the girls is that they are “ruined.” The word ‘ruined’ is a high modality word, and exemplifies the fact that these girls cannot be fixed no matter how hard one tries. This creates a sense of pity as the word “girls” represents youth. There is also a sense of order and routine that is demonstrated in the way “the girls are walking at the neat margin of the convent grass.” The word “neat” and the religious imagery associated with the word “convent” depict a strict order. Grass is also associated with the colour green, which represents fertility. The fact that the girls are “walking at the neat margin of the… grass”, shows that they are not allowed to be mothers. The girls are then “counted as they pass.” This establishes a sense of anonymity as we are looking at the girls as a whole group and not as individuals, which they are. This conveys that they are not cared for individually, and that they are in a harsh environment. The sonnet’s form is also directly related to the subject matter, as it is written in iambic pentameter which diegetically exposes the oppression of the young girls as of it’s strict rule. Through the use of many poetic devices, such as imagery, the theme of oppression by religion is established whilst sticking to a strict form.

Youth also plays a large role in this poem, as it highlights their innocence and innate desires. The second stanza says that the girls “smooth with roughened hands their clumsy dress. “ The juxtaposition of the word “smooth” and “rough” bring attention to the reader, as...
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