Cultural Attitudes Towards Women Demonstrated In Poetry

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Cultural Attitudes Towards Women Demonstrated in Poetry The role of women in western society has varied across the centuries. One way to examine attitudes towards women of a given time period is to read literature from that period. Poetry, for example, is able to reflect how a society viewed and treated women at a given time. I believe that the poems "To His Coy Mistress"� by Andrew Marvell, "Aunt Jennifer's Tigers"� by Adrienne Rich, and "Barbie Doll"� by Marge Piercy all demonstrate the cultural attitudes towards women held by society in the times that they were written.

"To His Coy Mistress"� was written in the mid-seventeenth century, when women were valued for their beauty and their ability to please men sexually. In this poem, word choice and imagery shows the way women were perceived and how they were taught to act in mid-seventeenth century society. The speaker in the poem is attempting to persuade a woman to sleep with him; to lose her virginity to him.

He is playing on a woman's vulnerability and fear of the loss of her beauty and youthfulness, two very important attributes to women of the time. In the second line, the speaker's choice of the word "coyness"� (line 2; p. 144) shows how women were taught to act in the seventeenth century. A pretty woman, when she found herself interacting with an available man, was taught to display shyness, reserve, or coyness, at least for the first little while; this was what was considered to be socially acceptable. The entire line "this coyness, lady, were not a crime"� (line 2; p. 144), also shows the disregard that men felt towards women attempting to be socially acceptable. Even though this woman has been reared to act shy and coy, the speaker...