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"To the Ladies" is a poem in a monologue form. The speaker is a woman, presumably the poet herself, but this is not certain. The speaker addresses the poem to all women. It is a warning about the ways men oppress women in the institute of marriage.
The poem contains 24 lines of rhyming couplets. The poem is written in iambic tetrameter, with occasional variations. Therefore, the rhythm of the poem consists of four iambs (unstressed/stressed) in each line.
The speaker equates being a wife with being a servant. Prior to marriage, the man uses kinds words and actions to win the woman over. After they become married, the man's kindness stops:
Then all that's kind is laid aside,
And nothing left but state and pride:
The speaker notes that she has no voice in the marriage, that she is essentially "mute." Her husband becomes like her God and she must obey his every word. She ends the poem by warning women to stay away from marriage because of these tendencies for the husband to become like an oppressive tyrant:
Value your selves, and men despise,
You must be proud, if you'll be wise.
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