Home of Mercy
Home of Mercy is a sonnet written by Gwen Harwood during modern era Australia. It depicts the lifestyle of a select few group of “ruined girls”, who have been impregnated and exiled to live with the nuns throughout the course of their pregnancy, in hope of exoneration. It deals with the confronting issue of the loss youthful innocence; is a wrong decision made in your teenage years really enough to have the rest of your social life destroyed?
Gwen Harwood’s poem raises the problem of teenage pregnancy. Pregnancy in juveniles was something that shamed an entire family. With very few options, the young women were forced to live with the Catholic nuns in hope that god will show mercy upon them. The text was clearly written with a clear understanding of the feelings of the exiled women and the obvious suppression undergone by these girls. To some extent, “Home of Mercy” loses some of its power in a modern context because of teenage pregnancies becoming more and more accepted. I think Gwen Harwood wrote her poem to not only outline the problem of unplanned pregnancy, but for the “onlooker” to have a different perception on this topic. Most people would look at them as “the ruined girls”, but I think Harwood is trying to make the reader feel compassion and sympathy for these underappreciated girls. She implies that they live very harsh lives, and touches on the notion that they aren’t mature physically (or mentally) when she refers to them as having “ripening bodies.” In my opinion, Gwen is blatantly telling the reader that they should see both sides of this argument and not to jump to conclusions about them. The mood of “Home of Mercy” is one of its fundamental tools in persuasion. It contains a very strong emotion of suppression and domination, with a strong influence of a lifeless and depressing overtone. A main emotion is the strict and forceful routine enforced by the Catholic Church. The opening sentence “By two and two...” already suggests that...
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