Last updated:
Oct. 31, 2006

Site Map:

Back to Home

Courses and Syllabi


Classroom Policies


Links of Interest

Student Projects

Dr. Laura L. Runge
Office: CPR 301J
Phone: 813-974-9496
Office hours: F 06
T/R 12:15-1:00p;
And By Appt

Contact Me
with questions,

ENL 3230
British Literature 1616-1780

Class 20

Nov 2: Lady Mary Wortley Montague, "Epistle from Mrs. Yonge" (2587)

    Post #9 Due - Group B

    Class Objectives:

  • To finish discussion of Pope's poem
  • To discuss Wortley Montagu's "Epistle from Mrs. Yonge"
  • To analyze the couplet form

    Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's poem based on a contemporary scandal offers a good point of comparison with Pope's. Both are fictitious letters sent by distraught and abandoned women to their ex-lovers.

    Reading Notes and Discussion Questions:


    Examine the way Lady Mary creates a sense of her character through her language. How would you characterize Mrs. Yonge's emotion in this letter? Why does she write to her ex-husband?

    How does this poem represent the marriage laws of England? See lines 11-24. What is unfair about the law? How does the poem serve as social criticism? IN what ways are wives like items for purchase, like servants or slaves?

    How does the poem represent female sexuality? Note the way the poem conveys a sense of the society's contradictions:

      Our sex's weakness you expose and blame
      (Of every prattling fop the common theme),
      Yet from this weakness you suppose is due
      Sublimer virtue than your Cato knew.
    What do these lines refer to? Why are women considered weaker? And if weaker why are they considered more virtuous?

    Compare the representation of the speaker's personal history (lines 38-58) with Pope's Eloisa. How is their story similar? How is it different?

    What consolation does the speaker draw in her outcast situation?

    Examine the closing curse. What does she wish upon her husband? How is this appropriate? With the inclusion of the names of specific government leaders, this poem becomes a personal satire. What do these closing lines mean? What purpose do they serve?

    2. Comparisons

    As letters, how do these poems compare? What is achieved by making these poems in the form of a letter as opposed to a lyric poem in first or third person?

    When we discussed "Eloisa to Abelard" I asked you to consider how Pope constructs the first-person voice of a woman. Compare these two female personas. How successful are the constructions of femininity? What elements do they share? Where are they different? How might you account for the differences?

    Lady Mary's poem was not published during the eighteenth century. Who is the intended audience of the poem (conjecture)? What might be the purpose of writing it?

    Pope's poem was published and immediately popular. How is the purpose of his poem different from that of Lady Mary's? What do the differences suggest to you about the literary taste and function in eighteenth century England?

    Back to Top of Page