I need to do a whole analysis on "To the Ladies" and have no idea concerning metric, genre, etc. Would be so good if anybody could help ... :)
Lady Mary Chudleigh wrote this poem in the late seventeenth century. It is an advisory poem, drawing from her own insights and education, at a time when most women did not have access to the level of education the poet herself received. Much of Chudleigh's work is proto-feminist, and this poem is no exception. Marriage, according to "To the Ladies," is equivalent to a life of indentured servitude which society encourages: "Wife and servant are the same / But only differ in the name."
The meter and structure of the poem serve to enhance its effectiveness, for the straightforward rhyming couplet construction is usually unthreatening, often associated with uncontroversial subjects and children's poetry. Here, the topic of the poem belies the almost upbeat meter, for the poet does not mince her words. This poem is a warning against tying "that fatal knot" of marriage, in which a woman says the word "obey" and makes a man "supreme": that is, she sets him up as a god over her, and gives him control over her life.
The poet describes how giving this sort of power to men only increases their "haughty" sense of self-importance, as the married man becomes like "an Eastern prince," whom the wife must obey without hope of escape. A married woman is "mute," silenced, and unable to express herself. The poet implores "the ladies" of the title to "shun that wretched state" which would leave them so disempowered and disenfranchised.
"To the Ladies" appeared in Poems on Several Occasions, a poetry collection published in 1703 in London by Mary, Lady Chudleigh. Mary was the daughter of Richard Lee and Mary Sydenham, members of the gentry who not only were comfortably situated financially but part of families that included distinguished doctors, soldiers, and politicians. Mary was born in 1656, married Sir George Chudleigh in 1674, and died in 1710. She was part of a distinguished intellectual circle including several other female writers and intellectuals who were concerned about the social roles of women.
The poem is written in the second person. The "you" to whom the poem is addressed appears to be any or all women considering marriage and the implied narrator is a fellow woman.
The poem consists of twelve iambic tetrameter couplets, usually end-stopped—that is, having the syntactic breaks at the ends of lines. The rhythm of the lines is generally regular, with infrequent substitutions.
The poem compares marriage to a form of slavery, suggesting that when a women agrees to "obey" her husband in the marriage ceremony of the Church of England she voluntary condemns herself to a life of servitude, divorce being almost impossible to obtain at this period. The narrator advises women to avoid marriage in order to maintain their freedom, pride, and self-worth.
"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.