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They Flee from Me
They Flee from Me
by Sir Thomas Wyatt

They Flee from Me Theme of Abandonment

Our speaker in "They Flee from Me" definitely has some abandonment issues. He says that a lot of women used to visit him, but they don't anymore. He's upset, miffed, and, frankly, a bit puzzled. Yet while the speaker plays the role of the victim, he also suggests that he, too, has abandoned plenty of women. This sure gives us an interesting glimpse into the sexual politics of 16th century England.

Questions About Abandonment

  1. Does the speaker feel abandoned? If so, how exactly do you know this, and can you relate to the speaker's feelings in any way?
  2. Do you think our speaker is also abandoning these women? Or is this not a two-way street?
  3. How do you think the women feel? Do you think the women of this poem are as confused and upset about being abandoned by their male sexual partners?
  4. Why does the woman in the second stanza abandon our speaker? How does this affect him?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The real problem our speaker faces is that he is jealous of the sexual successes of the women in the poem. He feels left behind as they grow ever more promiscuous, and leave him for greener pastures.

The speaker unfairly suggests that a woman abandoning a man is the equivalent of being uncivilized: instead, she should be a "tame," functioning member of society.

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