Study Guide

The Ruined Maid Stanza 3

By Thomas Hardy

Stanza 3

Lines 9-11

-"At home in the barton you said 'thee' and 'thou,'
And 'thik oon' and 'theäs oon' and 't'other'; but now
Your talking quite fits 'ee for high compan-ny!"-

  • Our nameless friend continues by using some more dialect words. This time it's "barton," which is just another word for farm.
  • (Yeah, "Old Macdonald had a barton" just doesn't have the same ring.)
  • She tells 'Melia that, back on the farm, 'Melia used to say words like "thee" and "thou" and other strange phrases like "thik oon" (this one), "theäs oon" (these ones), and "t'other" (the other).
  • Now, however, she speaks much differently. She has given up the language of the country for a language that is perfect for the "high company" she now keeps. (Note: "'ee" in line 11 is just a shortened form of "thee," which means "you.")
  • So, wait a second here. What's with the "high company"? Do these people like hang out on like the tenth floor of buildings? 
  • Not quite. "High" here just means something like "rich" or "elevated"—of a different class than the farm girl that 'Melia used to be.
  • Basically, 'Melia now hangs with these people, as opposed to these ones
  • Again, the point is that 'Melia has completely transformed: different clothes, different lifestyle, different voice.
  • And notice that all this talk about 'Melia's new language contrasts with her friend's pronunciations of words like "compan-ny" and "prosperi-ty."

Line 12

"Some polish is gained with one's ruin," said she.

  • Well, apparently being ruined ain't all that bad. According to 'Melia, you get a little polish once you've been ruined. 
  • Now polish here isn't the same kind of polish you'd use on your shoes, (i.e., this stuff). 
  • Instead, "polish" is a metaphor for social refinement and elegance, for knowing things and acting in ways totally and completely different from the poor farm girl. 
  • We're starting to think that there's something a little funny about these remarks from 'Melia that conclude the first three stanzas.
  • They sound just a tad formal, and they seem so—how do we say it?—robotic, pre-programmed.
  • We get the vibe that 'Melia has a stockpile of generic responses, and that she's unloading these rather than actually bothering to carry on a conversation or act like she cares.
  • Let's keep chugging along to the fourth stanza to see if this keeps up...

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