To The Fair Clarinda Essay

941 words - 4 pages

Monique Tan Poetic Sociality Kirsty Singer October 27, 2014 Aphra Behn, "To the Fair Clarinda" Aphra Behn's, "To the Fair Clarinda, Who Made Love to Me, Imagined More than Woman", was a wonderful poem that portrayed true and raw emotions of a woman (who was born a hermaphrodite) in love. This poem really caught my attention because it's clearly and quite directly expressing a passionate feeling of love towards another woman. She isn't shy about her thoughts and is very open about her inner self. Behn sees Clarinda as a woman rather than a hermaphrodite in her eyes which will show up throughout the poem but is sometimes conflicting as well. The first few lines already tells a lot about the theme of the poem and what Behn is trying to portray. She calls Clarinda her "Fair lovely Maid", but then goes on to say that she should call her something more masculine because that name is evidently "too weak, too feminine". She proposes the name "Lovely Charming Youth". That name in particular can go for a man or a woman which shows that Clarinda is in a way is playing the "man" role in her life and their relationship. Not only does she play the "man" but she is also a man anatomically which might even better her due to having the best of both genders; this possibly eternalizes Clarinda as perfect and the ideal person to be with because she is technically everything anyone would want- by playing both parts. Behn puts her up on a pedestal making her seem almost unreal. It makes the reader feel uncertain of whether Behn herself is unsure and possibly debating about the gender roles Clarinda plays, because of the change of labels in the beginning of the peom, or if she truly believes Clarinda is both to her. However, she seems quite content either way. When Behn is speaking about Clarinda or referring to her, she always uses "thy", "thee",and "thou". She completely steers clear and avoids using "he" or "she" to reveal her gender role. This could again play into her being uncertain of it or she simply views Clarinda as both in her eyes. Also, clues written to possibly conceal but subtly hint that Clarinda is a hermaphrodite shows up towards the end when the line, "beauteous wonder of a different kind", appears. She could be presenting that this different kind would be Clarinda, as she shows both qualities physically and emotionally for them. Another hint of how Clarinda is a hermaphrodite is when she mentions at the end of the first stanza, "For who, that gathers fairest Flowers believes- A Snake lies hid beneath the Fragrant Leaves." The flowers could be a symbol representing the female genitalia while the snake represents the male genitalia....

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