Anne Bradstreet

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How does Anne Bradstreet justify her role as a female writer in the poem "Prologue" to counter potential criticism?

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I am obnoxious to each carping tongue
Who says my hand a needle better fits.
This is perhaps the best illustration from this poem by Anne Bradstreet of her rejection of the idea that she, as a woman, should listen to the "carping tongues" of those who feel she would be better occupied in sewing than in sharing her opinions as a writer. In this poem, Bradstreet openly acknowledges that she is by no means infallible: she states in the opening stanza that she has only a "mean Pen," poorly equipped in her "poor lines," when she is contrasted with the output of "Poets and Historians." However, the initial two stanzas of the poem do not mention her gender at all. On the contrary, in these stanzas the humility she expresses has nothing to do with her womanhood at all. Bradstreet is stating simply that all modern writers should feel a similar sense that "simple am I according to my skill."
Bradstreet is evidently unwilling to accept any suggestion that she, as a woman, is less capable of capable commentary than other humans of any gender. However, she does attempt to preempt critical commentary from readers by noting that "From School-boy’s tongue no Rhet’ric we expect." She then describes her own "Muse" as "blemished" and notes that it cannot be expected, therefore, to produce perfect notes, as could be expected from a broken instrument. Bradstreet therefore elicits audience sympathy and engagement by comparing herself to an innocent schoolchild—notably, a boy.
However, Bradstreet is unrepentant in her commentary that any scorn cast "on female wits" will fall upon deaf ears in her case. She states that "men have precedency and still excel / It is but vain unjustly to wage war." This suggests, first, that men get angry about female intelligence out of sheer vanity, as they already have more power; it also indicates perhaps that this anger is driven by a fear that, should they not "wage war," women's intelligence might push them toward equality. At the end of this stanza, Bradstreet asks simply that men "grant some small acknowledgement" of the intelligence of women. The implication of this is that it is a small thing to ask, and it will do no harm to the men involved.

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