Study Guide

They Flee from Me Gender

By Sir Thomas Wyatt

Advertisement - Guide continues below


I have seen them gentle tame and meek
That now are wild and do not remember (3-4)

Maybe our speaker describes women as "wild" because they've shed the traditional expectations of their gender. Where they were once submissive and "tame," now they're taking it upon themselves to seek out whatever sexual partners they please.

[…] and now they range
Busily seeking with a continual change (6-7)

The speaker implies here, and near the end of the poem (with his use of "newfangleness"), that women are never satisfied, that they have an insatiable appetite for new things. The emphasis on "continual change," and the present tense verbs ("range," "seeking"), suggest that this is an ongoing or permanent character trait.

When her loose gown from her shoulders did fall,
And she me caught in her arms long and small (11-12)

Scandal! In Renaissance England, this would be a very unexpected, and probably dangerous thing for a woman to do. She's reversing the gender roles established in the first stanza by taking control of the situation and seducing the man for a change.

But since that I so kindly am served,
I would fain know what she hath deserved (20-21)

The speaker says he is "served." This is a passive construction (the speaker must be served <em>by</em> someone), so the speaker is emphasizing, still, that he doesn't have all the power anymore. This reversal of gender roles has him confused as to how to act because all the old rules no longer apply.

This is a premium product

Tired of ads?

Join today and never see them again.

Please Wait...