Study Guide

The Prologue Prejudice (Discrimination)

By Anne Bradstreet

Prejudice (Discrimination)

I am obnoxious to each carping tongue
Who says my hand a needle better fits. (25-26)

We think this is a line that a lot of women writers in the past (and maybe even today, sadly) would relate to. By sticking her head up and speaking her mind (at least in print), she makes herself vulnerable or "obnoxious" to gossipy, complaining men. This is really the moment in the poem where we start to see the ugliness of prejudice, and the pain it causes our speaker.

For such despite they cast on female wits. (28)

Now she really calls out her critics for being the complaining, whiny haters they are. We think she actually does a really good job of making them look petty and silly. And, like they say, success is the best revenge. With every line she writes, the witty Mrs. Bradstreet proves that her critics can't be right about female wits.

If what I do prove well, it won't advance,
They'll say it's stol'n, or else it was by chance. (29-30)

Again, we get a peek at the ugliness of prejudice. It puts our speaker in a situation where she just can't win. If she does a bad job, they'll say they told her so. If she does a good job, they'll accuse her of plagiarism, or just plain getting lucky. It hardly seems fair—and that's just the point. Our speaker is deftly, systematically pointing out just how unfair and warped this view of the world is.

But sure the antique Greeks were far more mild, (31)

The beauty of this line is that it makes it clear that there's nothing natural or timeless about the prejudices she's facing. Even if our speaker believes that there is some natural division of the sexes (and we think it's pretty clear that she does), she refuses to believe that her society's treatment of women needs to be so harsh. As proof, she reminds her readers that the Greeks weren't nearly so prejudiced toward female poets.

The Greeks did nought but play the fools and lie. (36)

This is the oh-so-witty response she imagines she'll get from her male critics. Really, this just shows how defenseless they are, how feeble their reasons for prejudice look. When they are confronted with evidence of better treatment of women, they just switch their discrimination to the Greeks. Pretty weak, guys.

This is a premium product

Tired of ads?

Join today and never see them again.

Please Wait...