Characters

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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 228

Certainly, the narrator is a character, quite an articulate and candid one at that. This narrator, perhaps a woman (though it is never made explicit), blames "foolish men" who seek to blame women for their own sins, misdeeds, and negative traits. She blames them for their treatment of women, saying that

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[...] if they mistreat, you complain,
you mock if they treat you well.

No woman wins esteem of you:
the most modest is ungrateful
if she refuses to admit you;
yet if she does, she's loose.

In other words, men want women to be chaste and virtuous, but when they are, they are called "ungrateful"; then, if they do agree to have sex with a man, they are called "loose." This character points out the very clear—and still very present—ambiguity in male expectations of women. She pointedly asks,

Who has embraced
the greater blame in passion?
She who, solicited, falls,
or he who, fallen, pleads?

This narrator asks such rhetorical questions, insisting tacitly that the answer is that men should receive greater blame. If he has "fallen" and he seeks to drag another down into sin with him, is not the man more to blame than the woman?

Other than the narrator, there really aren't any other true characters in the poem. She never speaks of one man or one woman in particular, just generic groups more broadly.

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