The Prologue by Anne Bradstreet Questions and Answers Marks 2 & 5

The Prologue by Anne Bradstreet Questions and Answers Marks 2 & 5




Q. 1. What does The Prologue by Anne Bradstreet mean?


Ans. Anne Bradstreet’s poem, The Prologue portrays the struggles of being a woman in Puritan society. Anne Bradstreet lived in a time where women were meant to keep quiet and tend to the children and domestic chores. She wrote The Prologue during this time to express her opinion on a woman’s voice in society.




Q. 2. For my mean pen are too superior things;

. Explain this line with reference to the context. .


Ans. she tells that this poem isn’t really going to be about these big events and famous people at all. Apparently she feels like these grand historical themes are “too superior” for her “mean” that means “low” or “unimportant” pen. In this case, she does not mean that the actual pen she uses any good. She uses it symbolically to represent her skill as a writer. That kind of symbolism, where you take a part of something to stand in for the whole, is called metonymy.


Q. 3. “Yet grant some small acknowledgement of ours”.

. What does the poet mean to say here?


Ans. The poet wants men should acknowledge that women can do good work, too. She makes her opponents look like creeps for attacking her. Bradstreet’s feminist voice is quite obvious in the quoted line.


Q. 4. And oh ye high flown quills that soar the skies … What do ‘high flown quills’ mean? What figure of speech is used here?


Ans. The poet reveals her feminist perspective in the quoted line. She describes male poets as “high flown quills.


This image plays on the fact that poets’ pens were made out of bird feathers or quills. She combines that idea with synecdoche, by substituting a reference to a part of a thing (the feather) for the whole (the bird).


Q. 5. “And ever with your prey still catch your praise”,…. What does the poet want to say here?


Ans. Keeping up the metaphor of poet as bird, the poet imagines these amazing male poets catching both ‘prey’ and praise.’ The words sound the same, and that association makes for a gentle little joke. This line shows that she knows her way around words and is a comfortable and capable poet. Many people, as the poet complains here, constantly harbour the idea that women cannot write.


Q. 6. If e’er you deign these lowly lines your eyes,

Give thyme or Parsley wreath, I ask no Bays. What does the poet want to mean by the above lines?


Ans. The poet makes one last, modest request. If people happen to read her poems, and want to reward her, crown of laurel or ‘Bays’. The laurel crown was given to winners of poetry competitions in ancient times. She doesn’t need that, since she’s promised to leave war and triumph to the men. Instead, she asks for a crown of “thyme or Parsley.”


Q. 7. This mean and unrefined ore of mine Will make your glist’ring gold but more to shine….. Explain the quoted lines with reference to the context.


Ans. These are the concluding lines of Anne Bradstreet’s poem The Prologue. Here the speaker uses a metaphor to compare her own poetry to drab,”unrefined ore.” Placed next to the art of men, she promises it will only make them look better, like glittering (“glistering”) pure gold. We can point out the use of the alliteration in “glisťring gold”. .


Q.8. “It is but vain unjustly to wage war”…. Why does the poet say so?


Ans. This line is taken from Anne Bradstreet’s poem The Prologue. The poet decides it would be useless “vain” and unjust to fight a battle with men for some kind of blue ribbon in poetry. Fighting with men is not her motto. As she said at the beginning, she will leave waging war against men.


Q.9. Let Greeks be Greeks, and Women what they are. Men have precedency and still excel;… Explain with reference to the context.


Ans. The poet-persona lets the Greeks drop. She does not have to beat her opponents, nor does she want to although maybe she has given us a hint that she could if she felt like it. She is willing to let men be first ‘have precedency’ and to outdo women ‘excel’.




1. In the poem The Prologue how does Anne Bradstreet rationalize and legitimize her role as a female writer?



Ans. 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 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.


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.


2. Assess Anne Bradstreet’s The prologue as a lyric.


Ans. A lyric is a kind of poem usually short and personal expressing the poet’s personal feelings and emotions rather than telling a story. This definition of lyric is matched with the characters of the prologue.


In the prologue, Bradstreet expresses her personal feelings and emotions against the attitude of male hegemony. Women were treated as servant in the early puritan society. They wre confined to the home. They were unable to go out of their fixed territory without any emergency. So they were kept in darkness. There is no value of the individual liberty of women. If any woman does something valuable, men say, “She must copy or happen it by chance”. The male society is reluctant to acknowledge women’s artistic excellence. Such kind of harsh attitude of male society cannot be accepted and Bradstreet bitterly criticizes it. The prologue contains the personal feelings and emotions of the poet. So, we can consider the poem as a lyric.


3. How does Anne Bradstreet criticize the male society in her prologue?


Ans. The Prologue as a poem speaks about Bradstreet’s struggle with being a woman within a puritan society. During this time, women were not meant to speak their mind and were meant to recognize only men’s supposed superiority. As a reference to this is line 40, “Men can do best, and women know it well”. It is noteworthy that the poet uses some literary devices such as irony and sarcasm to make a critique of male hegemony.


She criticizes the male society with her soft tone. She is very mild in her criticism on male dominance which makes it ironical. At the very beginning of the poem, she uses some understatements to make her points clear. She speaks of ‘mean pen’ to indicate her creativity. But ironically it hints at her inability at poetizing. She compares herself with Bartas who had the chance to write whatever he likes. She use an understatement to compare herself with a school boy to criticize the attitude of male society with polite tone. Though Bradsrteet relegate her position by comparing herself with a school boy, we know that she is the first a woman to write a critique on male dominance which is new in the early American scenario.


This is much a tribute to writing career of a woman as it is anything else. She once said that unless she writes none can hear her. So she writes in hope of being read, being heard. She is not a man so so that she can speak her mind publicly. So she writes. She uses ‘obnoious’ and ‘carping tongue’ to clarify the hostility of the male world. The men of her society used to say that “(a woman’s) Her hands fit better at needle”. In the next stanza, her critique becomes more obvious. Anne Bradstreet draws the reader’s attention by using sarcastic and ironic expressions.




4. Justify the significance of the title of the poem prologue.


Ans. The title of this poem just gives us some basic information. Essentially, it tells us that this poem is a prologue, a short piece of writing that is meant to introduce a longer work. In this case, that longer work is a book of Bradstreet’s poems that was sent to the publishers in London without her knowing about it. The book itself, which appeared in 1650, was titled The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung up in America.


What this does, as a prologue, is to confront the issue of gender right away. It gets out ahead of the potential criticism, which is a pretty great strategy for dealing with the flak a female writer might expect to get in Bradstreet’s era. We think it also sets the reader’s expectations a little low. The speaker sounds so modest, sometimes even a little short on self-esteem. But the work that this introduces, The Tenth Muse, is a pretty serious, smart and carefully crafted book of poems. No matter who you are or when you’re writing, it’s not bad to have your readers going in expecting too little, rather than too much. The title of the poem locates that message front and center for any male readers who might have their noses put out by Bradstreet’s writing.


Show the title of the poem is very apt and significant.



Q. 5. Discuss how the poem, The Prologue, portrays the struggle of women.


Ans. The Prologue is one of Bradstreet’s most intellectually stimulating poems because she invokes a historical and global context.” The Prologue reflects the struggles of being a woman in a puritan society that they were not meant to speak their mind and were confined to their domestic roles. Thus, they were not allowed to write literature and to publish it.


In her poem the Prologue, Anne Bradstreet sharply criticizes the male world for its unjust prejudice and hostility against the female world and female creativity. In order to criticize the male world, Anne Bradstreet uses such literary devices as irony and sarcasm. The tone of Anne is ironic throughout the poem. Her approach seems to be very polite but behind this polite attitude there lies a biting as well as pointed attack towards the male world. She uses many understatements which are also the mark of her ironic politeness.


In the opening stanza she uses the understatement ‘mean pen’ to indicate her ability. It’s very ironic that she tells us about her inability, though we know that she was the first American woman poet who wrote some finest lyrics. Throughout the first three stanzas, she uses other ironic remarks. She compares herself with the ‘school boys’ and says that her inability is inborn and irreparable.



Q. 6. Comment on the poetic tone and change of mood in the poem The Prologue.


Ans. “The Prologue” is often considered Anne Bradstreet’s personal statement about her role as a female poet in a male-dominated Puritan society, and even though the tone of the poem is at times light-hearted, Bradstreet is critical of those who restrict women’s roles.


In the first four stanzas, Bradstreet essentially denigrates her ability as a poet. She cannot, for example, discuss such things as “Wars, of Captains, and of Kings” because “My foolish, broken, blemish’d Muse” is not up to that task. She sadly notes that even though she reads the poetry of Du Bartas she doesn’t have the skills to write like Du Bartas and wishes that the Muse of Poetry had given her some bit of Du Bartas’ skill.


Bradstreet’s tone changes markedly in the fifth stanza when she complains that people disparage her attempts at poetry and tell her that she should be wielding a needle not a pen. And, she notes, even if her poetry is good, she will be either be accused of plagiarism or of accidentally writing something worthwhile.


The sixth stanza discusses the views of classical Greek culture, which were much less harsh toward women than the people of Bradstreet’s society, but even the Greeks failed to exalt the role of women in intellectual matters.


In the last stanza, Bradstreet acknowledges that it is a waste of time to battle men, who “have precedency and still excell” in an intellectual war, but she asks men to at least make a “small acknowledgement” that woman have intellectual abilities.


7. Comment on Anne Bradstreet’s purpose of alluding Bartas.


Ans. Developing the sense of authorial humility, Bradstreet moved into a sincere tribute to Du Bartas, still her poetic master. The admiration, however, was that which an aspiring writer of either sex might feel for an established poet. Such expressions of poetic inadequacy to a great theme and inferiority to a major writer were common among authors known to Bradstreet, and there is no reason to interpret her her praise as specifically female submissiveness. In his dedicatory verse to The Tenth Mute, we should recall, John Woodbridge indited a parallel passage to acknowledge his inability to emulate Bradstreet herself.


Praising Du Bartas’s choice of subject matter, his “sugar’d lines,” and even his “overfluent store” of verse, Bradstreet-“simple I”– called attention qualities which she could reasonably hope to imitate according to her skill. And skill is a revealing word, placing emphasis on crafts-manship, which could be developed, rather than natural gifts, which might have been denied. “The Prologue” is itself a display of poetic skill, technically more artful than the histories or quaternions with their monotonous couplets. The  pattern of the stanzas thew sound effects, and the rhetorical devices of “The Prologue” consistently qualify its author’s pretensions to simplicity.



The Prologue by Anne Bradstreet Questions and Answers Marks 2 & 5 The Prologue by Anne Bradstreet Questions and Answers Marks 2 & 5


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