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Compare and Contrast The Arch Deceiver with the poem The Seduction

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  • Pages: 9
  • Word count: 2123
  • Category: Poems

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The theme of deception is explored in the two texts. Most importantly the writer’s attitude in these two contexts something which also needs to be addressed as their social, historical and cultural background is very influential, significant and has a bearing on the tone and the theme of the story. A girl in the time of The Arch Deceiver would not be called a “little slag” because the man would be much more gentleman like, and in The Arch Deceiver a girl would not wear “all high white shoes” as the girl in The Seduction does.

The main theme in The Seduction is about a girl under the influence of alcohol, we know this because “He handed her the vodka, and she knocked it back like water. She giggled drunk and nervous,” the girl falls victim to the charms of an older boy, she then finds herself pregnant in the latter half of the poem and unable to cope. The Arch deceiver is about a womaniser who plays along three women trying to get the best out of them for himself.

The two texts are good to compare because there enough similarities to connect them together and there are enough differences to talk about; The Arch Deceiver has a parental figure and The Seduction does not. In both the stories the women are deceived by men who promise them things that they can’t fulfil. The language in both texts is mainly formal with the odd slang words mainly used in dialect to add originality to the characters and the writers.

The man in The Seduction talks to the girl about the magazines which he reads down by the lake, “me dads magazines”, in The Arch Deceiver Tony Kytes talks in the native language of the area he comes from and the time in which he is in, “Twas a little, round, firm, tight face,”. Both stories commence in the same way, they both start with a happy tone and lots of description, Tony Kytes paints mental images of the area of Wessex which Thomas Hardy the author lived.

The girl in The Seduction talks of the “carpeted floor” of the party she had attended, this is when she is angry at all the false pretences of the world that she has grown up in. he story of The Seduction has brief description towards the end and at the beginning but it is mainly conversation between the girl and her alter ego. She talks about the limitations and teenage angst that she faces and she then justifies her action with her dual personality. The conversations in The Arch Deceiver are between Tony Kytes and his father, it is what moves the story along because there is no narrative. Tony Kytes is a humorous and light hearted without any moral at the end although it promises one the whole way through.

In The Seduction the girl is much traumatised and there is no mention of a parental figure, the only thing this girl has to lead her through her angst is the teenage magazines which she later realises are all phoney and she feels betrayed. Se then leaves a moral for teenage girls not to be taken in by lies. She also seems to be heading towards suicide we know this because she talks about “better to turn away, move away, fade away”, she is very desperate at this point and probably manically depressed. In The Arch Deceiver there are four main characters; Tony and the three young ladies.

The character we get to know best is Tony himself, through his conversations which show him to be an indecisive and weak but not harmful. He finds it difficult to refuse any of the women a lift which shows his weak personality, and he seems beguiled by the beauty of each of them when the others were out of sight, like when he says to Unity “I never knowed you was so pretty before” the female characters are not very diverse and complicated, they are described very superficially as stereotypes of manipulative feminine personalities, like when Unity says “and-can you say I’m not pretty, Tony? Now look at me! ” the objective of the persons in The Seduction is to have a good time, the male did this by going to a party were another girl was also looking for a good time and he took advantage of her.

The girl in The Seduction was under the influence of vodka whilst making love to man she had only just met, so she was definitely drugged and abused. The poem is about one regretful night and the aftermath with the betrayal of the world that she knew.

The main contrast in the language of the two texts is The Seduction is written in the 1970’s and it contains many words and phrases that would not have been used in the 1800’s when The Arch Deceiver was written; for example a lady would not have drank “vodka” or “wore high white shoes”, the men in that era would not have called a lady “a little slag”, as gentlemen of that time would speak correct English not slang. There is not really a great deal of slang used in The Arch Deceiver except for the dialect of the time.

However The Seduction does when the boy talks about what he does in his spare time “by meself with me dads magazines” the poem also uses description and metaphor such as “silver stream of traffic” and “Blind windows of the tower blocks” these phrases are effectively juxtaposed with prosaic detail such as “he spat in the river” The Arch Deceiver doesn’t do this style it flows more continuously. This is because the stories are trying to convey different messages; The Arch Deceiver is an account of humorous events in one day of a womaniser and follows in the early steps of carry on comedy.

The Seduction is more serious story which attempts to create an atmosphere over and above its physical setting, phrases are used to give a message when read in between the lines such as “the frightening scum on the water” which could be many things such as the scum on the boy, or the scum on her reflection and her person or more imaginatively the natural relevance of the water being poisoned with the scum and in the girls case the vodka and the influence of the boy.

They also serve as a background to the girls enthralment with the boys “eyes as blue as iodine” and “kisses that tasted of nicotine” which both symbolise contempt for the partner because the iodine used to describe his eyes is also used to treat scabs and wounds and it also stings and she feels like she will perhaps be stung but she’s to drunk to much to do anything about it we know this because “her head rolled forward” and nicotine is a more sinister way of saying tobacco because his kiss could taste of either but nicotine is the killer.

The Seduction doesn’t have any room for humour there is only some clumsy speaking from the boy when he says “eating me dinner” which shows he’s from a working class background. The writer uses adjectives such as “softly rounded belly” which now sickens her because she is pregnant and the softly rounded belly she had worked for has disappeared.

The best phrase that comes across from her ultimate feelings about the pregnancy is “this despicable feminine void” which shows the situation in its entirety its negative nature, which is purely a female problem which only a mother can help with and that’s what’s missing; a parental figure which is evident in The Arch Deceiver both for Milly and Tony. The parental figures offer a lot of help in a short appearance.

The father of Tony lets Tony know which women he’d pick and Tony juxtaposes his dad’s decision and decides to go for the one his dad is least likely to go for, in this case the dad still helped Tony and Milly’s father helps Milly to get out of the position she was in when she needed to do so. The women in the story appear to be of two different worlds with nothing in common however they are united by their willingness to try and pleas their men.

The main theme through the story and the poem is about the subtle delicate balance of power in the relationships between men and women and how it shifts between the two sexes. In The Arch Deceiver it is often difficult to decide who is being more manipulative. Tony seems to be in less command of the situation than any of the girls as he is continually acting on impulse, however the girls are all trying to secure Tony as a husband and that is what frightens him most. Also because of women’s place in society at the time the women must wait to be chosen.

In The Seduction the boy is in control in the first half of the poem because he knows what he wants and so he knows the path in which he must follow, however in the second half the girl is in control of the situation although there is not any other characters for her to be in control of she is finding control of herself and there is also a mention of the outside world through her teenage magazines which she has torn up to make her feel in control of them too. The settings in the two stories are totally different. The Seduction is set in the city and The Arch Deceiver is set in the countryside.

The setting doesn’t have any great relevance to the theme of the story because it is mainly about the relationships between men and women in different time periods. The two young people in The Seduction could have just as easily been sitting in a country land because most the drama goes on inside her own head. The girl in The Seduction was just in the right frame of mind for falling in love as shown by the lines “She had nodded, quite enchanted, and her eyes were wide and bright as he enthused about the Milk Cup and the next McGuigan fight”.

In The Arch Deceiver the story the countryside setting is irrelevant to the crucial events. The same scenario could have taken place in a town of the period. What is crucial however is the period itself because would be difficult to imagine such naivety from women of the 20th century, at the time in which it was written most women were expected to marry. There was little opportunity for women to work and become financially independent and so a woman’s father literally “gave her away” to become the husband’s responsibility. Women therefore devoted their lives to finding a suitable husband to take care of them.

In the case of the poem, the time period is also very important because it is only recently that young girls around the age of sixteen (we know this because she talked “about O levels she’d be sitting in June”) to go alone to parties and to have sexual encounters with strangers. However despite the climate of freedom the girl’s situation is not condoned and is still very shameful. The theme running through both through story and the poem is one of subtle and delicate balance of power in relationships between men and women.

In the Tony Kytes story it is often difficult to decide who is being more manipulative, Tony or the girls. Tony seems to be in less command of the situation that any of the girls, he is continually acting on impulse. The girls however act on the intention of securing Tony for a husband. However because of women’s place in society Tony has the upper hand and they must wait to be chosen. In The Seduction the power is with the boy to begin with because he knows what he wants, and that is to take advantage of a misinformed girl.

Then later the girls is in control although she is the only character left in the story she knows what she wants but she doesn’t know how to get it, in contrast to before when she didn’t know what she wanted but knew how to get it. I think the writer in The Seduction is more critical of deception because the writer is talking on a more serious level. The girl in The Seduction truly feels betrayed and deceived, however in The Arch Deceiver Tony doesn’t really mind, Unity had already made up her mind, Hannah was upset but glad to have kept her pride and Milly got her man in the end and she feels she got him over all the other ones.

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