The poem exudes a paradoxical phenomenon in comparing upcountry girls with town girls. One of the major verbal ironies, in this case, is the argument by the town girl that when you are ruined, you gain some status of being polished. From stanza one, it is notable that the persona, Melia has a close tie with the other female voice in the poem (Hardy, line 1). However, it is ironic how Melia now dismisses life in the rural setup where she was raised. In the same breath, it is interesting how she perceives her status of being ruined as the reason why she has prospered and amassed wealth in the town. In the last line of stanza one, she ironically asks her friend whether she knew she had been ruined.
Essentially, it is ironic that as a village girl who had not lost her virginity, she talked of home life as adorable and fulfilling while enjoying the environment. However, now she claims that those who are ruined never do work. Therefore, it seems that she embraces losing her virginity, yet societies seem to recommend women who keep their virginity outside marriage. The paradox witnessed in the speaker’s voice indicates that there are multiple ironies in the way in which women perceive themselves alongside the doctrines of communities.
The lady from the town tries to inform the country girl that lives in the city is quite different from that in the village. Town dwellers are polished and exposed to the world as life transpires in different ways. On the other hand, village ladies adore their cultural beliefs and want to keep themselves pure for their husbands. Another irony in this stanza is that women seem to consider men as their source of wealth instead of working hard to gain massive wealth.
Hardy, Thomas. “The Ruined Maid.” (1866).