Study Guide

With how sad steps, O Moon, thou climb'st the skies! Women and Femininity

By Sir Philip Sidney

Women and Femininity

"With How Sad Steps" is just two dudes talking to each other—wait, check that. It's one dude addressing another dude (or, you know, planet) who can't really respond. So how in the world is it about women? Well, clearly Astrophel is having a hard go with that special someone, and he thinks the moon is having the same issue. Astrophel wonders if females everywhere are like Stella—lovers of attention, mean to those who love them, and generally not approving of "constant," devoted love. This poem, simply put, is one of about a billion instances of a dude trying to figure out women.

Questions About Women and Femininity

  1. Does Astrophel resemble a misogynist (a guy who hates women) at all? How so or why not?
  2. Does Stella seem like a mean girl? Or just one who's tired of Astrophel's garbage? Why do you think so?
  3. Is this poem's presentation of women one-sided? Why or why not?
  4. What is the effect of calling women "beauties"? What does this say about Astrophel's feelings, really?

Chew on This

Ah, we give up. This poem is proof that men and women will never completely understand each other; they are too different.

Astrophel seems to think Stella is the cause of all his problems, but when you point a finger, you have at least three pointed back at yourself (four depending on what you do with your thumb). Our man should really look at his own actions, too.

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