The Female Vagrant differs greatly from The Dungeon and The Convict in setting and narrative; however, it nonetheless effectively captures the suffering of an individual because of the social and political agendas prevalent at that time.
The Female Vagrant tells the story of a woman who is forced to wander the streets after her husband is killed in a political uprising. She begs for food and shelter, but is constantly turned away. The poem highlights the plight of the poor and homeless, and the way that they are often ignored by society.
Although The Female Vagrant is a much different poem than The Dungeon and The Convict, both poems offer a glimpse into the suffering of those who are affected by the social and political agendas of their time.
Wordsworth compassionately sets up his poem from the start by pairing the noun “female” with the adjective “vagrant” in the title. This is successful because Wordsworth emphasizes that it is a woman who is rootless and “vagrant” in disposition, rather than a man; thus prepping readers for the poem’s tragedy.
The poem is narrated in first person, by an unspecified character who has come across a woman sitting on the side of the road.
The narrator begins by describing how the woman looks: “I saw her seated on a stone, / She had no house, no home, / No place to lay her head”.
This string of enjambed lines creates a fast pace which mirrors the hurried actions of the woman as she tries to escape her sorrowful thoughts. The words “seated on a stone” suggest that she is stranded and helpless.
The next three lines reveal that the woman is not just poor, but also grieving: “She was weeping bitterly; / Her children at her knee / Were weeping too”.
The tears of the woman and her children trigger the narrator’s pity and he proceeds to ask her what has happened to reduce her to such a state.
She replies that she is a “wanderer”, forced to travel from place to place in search of food and shelter. The woman does not tell the whole story, but the words “my husband dear” imply that she is a widow.
The poem is also written in first person, which allows the reader to feel sympathy for the protagonist due to the intense emotions expressed through their story. One example of this intensity is shown through the metaphor; “through tears that fell in showers”, after the repossession of her family’s home.
This image allows readers to feel the protagonist’s intense pain and suffering, as she watches her family being forced out of their home. The poem also contains a great deal of pathos, as it tells the story of a woman who has been through so much hardship in her life, yet she still manages to maintain her positive outlook on life. This is shown through lines such as “I have no cause to repine” and “I know that He will bless my wants ere long”. These lines show the reader that despite everything that she has been through, she still believes that things will get better for her eventually.
The poem “The Female Vagrant” by Felicia Dorothea Hemans is a moving poem that tells the story of a woman who has been forced to vagrancy due to the loss of her home and family. The poem is written in a first person perspective, which allows readers to feel sympathy for the protagonist as she tells her tale of hardship and suffering.
One other technique used by Wordsworth in The Female Vagrant can be seen in the alliteration of the words “dried up, despairing, desolate”. The repetition of the ‘d’ sound serves to illustrate how deeply affected she is by the events which have caused her great sadness.
Furthermore, the alliteration also represents how she has become trapped in her current state. The harsh ‘t’ sound of the words “wretched, forlorn, and forsaken” furthers this idea that she is hopeless and alone. This poem ultimately speaks to the struggles faced by many during this time period, especially women who were left to fend for themselves.
By starting with a carefree and joyful tone, Wordsworth sets up a sharp contrast to the poem’s later heartbreak. For example, the line “with thoughtless joy I stretch’d along the shore” from the first stanza is directly juxtaposed with the much sadder line “for no earthly friend/ Have I.” at the end of her tale, when she’s describing her sense of loss and eternal solitude.
The poem tells the story of a young woman who is forced to leave her home and live as a vagrant. She suffers great hardship, but remains stoic and hopeful throughout her ordeal. The poem highlights the strength of human character in the face of adversity.
The title, “The Female Vagrant”, refers to the protagonist of the poem, and serves as a reminder of her status as an outcast from society. The poem is written in first person, which allows readers to empathise with the female vagrant’s situation.
Wordsworth’s use of simple language and short lines creates a sense of immediacy, making it easy for readers to follow the story. He also uses repetition for emphasis, such as in the lines “I had no companion in my woes./ I lived/ I lived to see my fellow-creatures drop/ Around me like the leaves of autumn.”
The poem is ultimately a story of hope, in spite of the hardships faced by the protagonist. In the final stanza, she reflects on her situation and resolves to remain positive: “Though all around/ Seemed dreary and deserted, I not fear’d// That I should die for want of food or rest,// So long as from within there well’d up clear/ This spring of comfort.” This shows the reader that it is possible to maintain hope even in the darkest of times.
Wordsworth and Coleridge use different literary techniques to make the reader feel sympathy for the characters. In The Dungeon, Coleridge uses an angry narrator to show how cruel the prison system is and how it ruins the life of the prisoner. Similarly, in The Convict, Wordsworth uses an observer to create a connection between the convict and reader that makes them sympathize with him.
In The Female Vagrant, both poets use a female character as their subject which allows the reader to easily identify with her. Furthermore, they include elements of the supernatural which are designed to create an emotional response in the reader.
Both Poems have a clear objective; to make the reader feel sympathy for the protagonist. In The Dungeon, this is done by making the protagonist an everyman figure who is caught up in a system that he does not understand. Similarly, in The Convict, Wordsworth uses a similar technique by making the convict a sympathetic figure who has been dealt a bad hand in life.