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The Reflection: A Song Essay

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The poem 'The Reflection: A Song' was written in 1684 by Aphra Behn and seems to feature around the theme of realisation and betrayal. Written by a woman, the poem's main character of a betrayed female has a subjective stance, which evokes a strong emotion of sympathy from the reader as it could represent a true life event. The structure of the poem is set out in seven stanzas, consisting eight lines. What is interesting about the structure is the use of iambic tetrameter with the first, third, fifth and seventh lines of each stanza and iambic trimeter with the second, fourth, sixth and eight lines. This gives the poem a lyrical rhythm as well as encouraging visual interest for the reader.
Rhyme scheme follows quite a loose A, B, A, B pattern. The reason for the description of loose is that some lines end without true rhyme. For example, 'her fate' (l.2) then 'she sat' (l.4) does not follow the pattern which has been set out for most lines such as 'to bemoan' (l.1) and 'alone' (l.3). Furthermore, dialect may also interfere with pronunciation, especially with the end words of 'tongue' (l.6) and 'wrong' (l.8). This reoccurs later on with 'strove' (l.33) and 'love' (l.35) as well in other areas of the poem. However, seeming as this was composed in the 17th century, diction would have been different to that of the contemporary reader, meaning the form of the poem, in terms of reading aloud, may have had the correct rhyme intention.
Internal rhyme is also seen with 'my' (l.18) and 'thy' (l.19) which also contributes to the lyrical style and creates a smooth rhythm when reading. As this poem follows along the theme of betrayal and love, devices such as repetition are used to emphasise this theme. Within stanza five, ana...


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...escape. She does not try to portray the idea in a metaphoric sense, but instead uses the direct language to make the statement adamant.
This close textual analysis has shown how the feeling of despair can be portrayed through a variety of devices. The fact that there is a prominent rhyme scheme makes the poem traditional, as well as the theme being about love. What may have been seen as controversial could be the fact that the poem was written by a woman, especially as this was written in the 17th century. Following on, as a female herself, Aphra Behn is able to create a believable female character by using real life concepts such as betrayal. Whether Behn experienced this emotion herself would require further reading, however the emotion within in the poem seems to be precise and may have been from a personal experience the writer incurred in her lifetime.


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