Compare The Homecoming and The Workbox by Thomas Hardy.
The two poems I have chosen to compare are, 'The Homecoming' and 'The
Workbox' by Thomas Hardy. In the poem 'The Homecoming,' a newly
married couple arrive home for the first time. The young bride is
unhappy already in the marriage though the husband seems quite happy.
In 'The Workbox,' however, it is not a new marriage and we see the
husband giving a workbox he has made to his wife and the story behind
There are many different themes and attitudes in the two poems and
they are very closely linked, sharing some of the same ideas. Thomas
Hardy uses different poetic techniques in both to express his ideas
and the attitudes towards women in the early 20th century.
We see a similar attitude to women in both poems. Men seem to dominate
the relationship and take control as shown in 'The Homecoming,' as the
husband is looking after the wife though ordering her to things such
as he says, 'don't ye rub your eyes so red,' 'sit ye by the fire,'
'keep your little thumb out of your mouth,' 'don't ye gnaw your
handkerchief,' and 'don't ye tap your foot.' This shows that the men
did try to protect the women but were in control and women had to do
what the husbands told them. This domination is shown in 'The
Workbox,' when the husband calls his wife, 'little wife' showing he
looks down to her. In 'The Homecoming' and 'The Workbox' the husbands
dominate the conversation also and do most of the speaking.
The men patronise the women in both these poems showing that men
thought more of themselves than women such as in 'The Homecoming,' the
husband says, 'and ye'll soon forget to sock and sigh for dear
daddee!' Also in 'The Workbox' the man starts to patronise the wife by
saying, 'I should have understood! It shocked you that I gave to you
one end of a piece of wood whose other is in a grave.' His wife,
however, stands up for herself showing that women are strong just
dominated by men, as she says, 'don't, dear, despise my intellect.'
The placing of the word 'dear' changes the mood of the sentence. Here
it shows she is angry with her husband as dear is usually an
affectionate term but being placed second in the sentence it gives a
The idea that the husbands protected the women shows also how men
thought women to be the weaker sex. In 'The Workbox,' we see this as
the husband keeps looking down to her such as when he says, 'little
wife.' The way the word 'wife' rhymes with 'life' emphasizes it and
make it seem even more like he is the wiser partner who can protect
and look out for her. In the poem, 'The Homecoming' the new wife
describes to her husband all the things she doesn't like about his
house when she says, 'a floor o' wretched stone, and nasty pewter
platters, horrid forks of steel and bone, and a monstrous crock in
chimney.' This shows childishness on the girl's behalf, possibly
showing that all her life she has been treated like a...