The Ruined Maid LO: To explore features of language within The Ruined Maid.
Key terms • Couplet: a stanza of poetry made up of two lines. If these lines rhyme it is known as a rhyming couplet. • Dialogue: a spoken exchange between two or more people. • Quatrain: a stanza of poetry made up of four lines. • Refrain: a phrase that is repeated in a poem.
Dialogue • A dialogue is simply a conversation between two or more people. In ‘The Ruined Maid’, Thomas Hardy creates a dramatic dialogue, in which he represents an imagined conversation between ’Melia and an unnamed speaker who meets her in town, having previously known her as a country girl. • Read through the poem carefully: • Use one colour to highlight everything that the unnamed speaker says and another to show everything ’Melia says in response. • What do you notice about how much ’Melia says? • How would you describe her tone of voice? What is her attitude towards her new profession, do you think? • Hardy uses repetition in each of ’Melia’s lines. Which words are repeated and what is the effect?
Dialect • Dialect refers to the distinctive vocabulary and grammar used by people of a particular social class, or who are from a particular area of the country. • Re-read the third stanza of ‘The Ruined Maid’ • Underline or highlight the dialect words. What do you think they might mean? Write your suggested ‘translation’ next to each word. • Now look at the rest of the poem and identify any other dialect words. What do you think they mean? • How and why has ’Melia changed her way of speaking? • Throughout the poem ’Melia uses Standard English in her speech, with one exception. Can you find it? What might this lapse show about ’Melia and how much she has changed after all?