Misogyny in the Poem "Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat, Drowned in a Tub of Gold Fishes" by Thomas Gray

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Female writing during the 18th century became a popular method of expressing feminine mentality on issues that were previously considered forbidden. Writers such as Aphra Behn, Mary Leapor and Lady Mary Wortley Montagu published their works alongside many respected male poets such as Jonathan Swift and Thomas Gray. Women were gaining a sense of independence and emancipation from the traditional patriarchal rule, and this was occurring at an increasingly rapid pace. Many female poets of the time wrote works that dealt with the treatment of women by men, and how they are slaves to masculinity. At the same time, these women were degrading men to the role of an oppressing tyrant. Male poets, such as Jonathan Swift and Thomas Gray, began to react to the negative stigma placed on the male species by the quickly expanding realm of female poets. Thomas Gray was quite possibly evoked to write the "Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat, Drowned in a Tub of Gold Fishes" as a response to the attack on patriarchal ideals.

The production of "Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat, Drowned in a Tub of Gold Fishes" initiated from an occurrence of events that resulted in the untimely death of a much-loved house cat. Horace Walpole was the owner of a beloved tabby cat, named Selima, who drowned herself in a china vase after promiscuously attempting to catch her gold fish dinner. Distraught with emotional grief, Walpole requested friend Thomas Gray to write a poem commemorating the event. Walpole and Gray's relationship went beyond friendship, because occasionally they engaged in "homosexual tendencies" (www.wikipedia.com). On the surface, Gray's poem describes the curious, comedic adventures of Walpole's cat that ultimately leads to her death. Yet, Gray's preference for the male gender and the growth of the...