Compare what happens to the two girls and the attitude they and other people have towards it. In what ways do the poems seem typical of the period in which they were written? The two poems are set nearly a century and half apart. Despite this, the poems have very similar occurrences. The poems are both about the differences of commitment between boys and girl in relationships, and the abuse they receive from neighbours and local people.
The reader must note that the poet who wrote “Cousin Kate” was a wealthy lady, and so could not have encountered the situation in her poem, whereas the poet for “The Seduction” could quite easily have experienced a teenage pregnancy. “Cousin Kate” was written for the pleasure of writing a poem, but “The Seduction” was written for a children’s poetry competition with the subject of ‘water’, these facts must also be taken into consideration. The narrator in “Cousin Kate” is enticed by a Lord into his home. They have a relationship and the narrator becomes pregnant.
We are not told whether the lord is aware of the pregnancy, but he swaps the narrator “like a glove” for her younger, more fair cousin, Kate. The girl in “The Seduction” goes to a friend’s party and meets a boy. The girl gets drunk on vodka as she “knocked it back like water,” and the boy takes advantage of her. She also becomes pregnant and tears up her comics that had “cheated” and lied to her. The girls in both the poems lose their virginity and become pregnant, the narrator in “Cousin Kate” was a “cottage maiden”, showing the reader that she was a female virgin.
The narrator in “The Seduction” does not tell the reader directly that she was a virgin, but from the way she acted about her pregnancy and how drunk and “nervous” she was, it is implied. Both of the girls in some way regret what happened, they cry and feel “unclean”. The men by whom they were seduced used tools, the lord used his money and the boy used alcohol. This shows the reader that the narrators were not in love with the boys for the person they were at first. Neither of the poems tell us the name of the narrator, which could be to increase the sense of privacy or shame.
The poems ask rhetorical questions “Why did the great Lord find me out, and praise my flaxen hair? ” and “For where, now, was the summer of her sixteenth year? ” This could be a sign of distress and despair. We find out at the end of both poems that the girls are looked down upon and shamed by the neighbors or local people, whereas we do not hear about the Lord or boy being disgraced. The reason the narrator in “Cousin Kate” is disgraced is because she had sex before marriage, which was frowned upon in the decade that the poem is set.
“The neighbours call [Cousin Kate] good and pure, call [the narrator] and outcast thing. ” The neighbours in “The Seduction” “whisper that [she] always looked the type”, and disgrace her because she had had sex with a boy she did not know, and had become pregnant. The two teenagers did not have a relationship at all, and did not love each other. We are told that she fell in love with “his eyes as blue as iodine, with the fingers that stroked her neck and thighs, and the kisses that tasted of nicotine. ” One the night of the party, the girl fell in love with the idea of being in love, not with the boy.
The boy did not love her either, he allows the girl to become drunk, and calls her a “little slag”, showing the reader he has no respect at all for the girl. He “swiftly contrived to kiss her” which is not romantic, making the reader believe that he is only with her for his own pleasure and bravado. The relationship in “Cousin Kate” between the narrator and the lord seems quite caring, the narrator loved the Lord and it appeared to her that the Lord felt the same. He praised her “flaxen hair” and filled her “heart with care”. We find out in the next stanza all the harmful things he did.
The narrator was “lured” to his palace home, where she “lead a shameless shameful life”. He wore her for decoration because of her beauty and changed her “like a glove” for someone younger. We are made to feel pity for the narrator; she did love him, so much so that she felt it was acceptable to break the local taboo of sex out of wedlock. Both girls become pregnant because of the Lord and the boy. The narrator in “Cousin Kate” appears to love her child, and seems boastful in the way that she talks to her cousin about it, “Yet I’ve a gift you have not got, and seem not like to get.
” The mood here is triumphant because she knows that she has got what the lord wants most, something which her cousin cannot give, ‘your father would give lands for one to wear his coronet’ She says this to her son, because she knows that this is what the lord wants most, an heir, and her cousin is infertile and cannot give it to him. This is also ironic because the one thing that he wants, he had, but he cast it away. The girl he chose, Cousin Kate, cannot give him a child because she is infertile.