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Amelia is aware of her situation of being “ruined,” but she has easily come to terms with it because she is doing so well financially. She has not shed all her previous colloquialisms, as may be seen in her concluding sentence “You ain’t ruined” (line 23). “Ruined” has the double meaning of (a) an actual ruined reputation, and (b) the benefits that come from an increase in financial circumstances. Hardy is not using the poem to attack conventional moral judgments, but he certainly is raising the issue of whether strict morality might have too great a cost, particularly in view of the descriptions in stanzas 4 and 5 of Amelia’s ill condition, both physically and psychologically, before leaving the farm. The poem is satirical, and it upsets prejudgments about the moral laxitude of personal liberty.
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