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“Affairs of the Heart” – the Feminist Criticism – Part II

In the forth stanza and in the following tercet the poet, again, tries to warn males about the dangers of falling in love (“Be careful when you start”) justifying his concerns and fears by referring to his own negative experience: “Sometimes I think I’ll never learn…//Were all those promises in vain?”. It suggests that the man was not satisfied with the love affair, and the fifth stanza explains why: the romantic adventure ended earlier than the man wanted it to, which made him very disappointed and sad. It is, however, crucial to understand that this disappointment does not come from the fact that the pleasure is over, but from the notion of being manipulated: the man is sad because he lost control and had to face consequences of someone else’s decisions, which is especially painful for men when these decisions are made by women.

Victimizing Men at Women’s Expense

At this point all proud men can start pitying the poor author who actually did fall a “victim of this coup d’etat” and accusing the sly and unworthy woman of all deadly sins; we, in turn, will focus on discussing what caused the man’s defeat in this battle of sexes (the line “All is fair in love and war” allows us to use such terminology) and what implications it has. It is clear that the woman’s success was achieved due to her confidence and decisiveness: instead of accepting the secondary role reserved for her by society, she refused to follow the dogmas, broke the mould and thus, having liberated herself, became blessed and invincible. The key factor in her victory was resorting to the masculine way of behaving: she made him call her room and it was her who did not pick up the phone; thus, she used him in this “fleeting love affair” and then dismissed as unnecessary. Therefore, the man was totally mistaken when he supposed that it was due to him that the woman came to life and that it would be easy to shape her according to his needs: the woman proved explicitly that she is not a malleable creature whose life-paths are to be determined by the influence of males, but an independent human being with free will who is perfectly capable of choosing her future.

“Affairs of the Heart” – the Feminist Conclusion

All in all, Lake’s “Affairs of the Heart” gives us a very interesting depiction of an implicit battle between the masculine and the feminine, and the reader is free to choose what attitude they want to have toward the ending, whether it be annoyance with the cunning female who slyly disguised herself, made the man fall in love with her, used his vulnerability for her own purposes and forgot about him after he ceased to be useful, or admiration for the strong and willful woman who broke the canons of the patriarchal society and gave a great example of what every modern woman should do if she does not want to spend her life being inferior and insignificant creature who is constantly looked down at by all those complacent males who do not, in fact, have any inherent right to dominate this world.

Next: “Affairs of the Heart” – the New Criticism

Previous: “Affairs of the Heart” – the Feminist Criticism – Part I

Love Poetry