What is the theme of Mary Lady Chudleigh's poem "To the Ladies?" Be sure to describe the advice she gives to women in your answer.

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theyellowbookworm eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Lady Mary Chudleigh's poem "To the Ladies" (1703) details the restrictions placed on women in the early eighteenth-century. More specifically, Lady Mary Chudleigh explores women's limitations within marriage. The theme of the poem examines marriage as a trap that places women in submissive roles. She writes, "Wife and Servant are the same, / But only differ in the Name: / For when that fatal Knot is ty'd, /Which nothing, nothing can divide:" (ll. 1-4). In these lines, Lady Chudleigh outlines the problem she observes in English society: women are subservient to their male counterparts. Her proto-feminist work explores the limited options for eighteenth-century women and illustrates the entrapment many women faced as a result of the marriage contract.

jimmeyer eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In addition to the fine points that theyellowbookworm makes, consider the implications of the comparisons Chudleigh makes between the husband/wife relationship and the sovereign/subject relationship (lines 9, 14-16, and 19) and of the reference to how the power of the state supports the dominion of husbands over wives (line 5).  Also, since the prompt asks you to address her advice to women, analyze the last 4 lines.