Study Guide

The Ruined Maid Summary

By Thomas Hardy

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The Ruined Maid Summary

"The Ruined Maid" is a dialogue between two women who bump into each other in the street. The first to speak is an unnamed woman, who comments on 'Melia's (short for Amelia's) new clothes and look (she seems cleaner, more elegant, etc.). As the poem continues, the woman comments on the way 'Melia used to look (she had no shoes when she left the farm where the two worked together, she was in "tatters"). Each time the woman comments on something, 'Melia responds with a short, semi-snobby retort, usually to the effect of "Well, I'm ruined and this is what I get." By the end, the other woman admits that she too wishes she had all the nice things 'Melia does, to which 'Melia basically says, "You're a raw country girl and you ain't ruined—so too bad."

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