Les Grands Seigneurs-Dorothy Molloy (H*)


At first the woman (the speaker) thought men were great, they were everything to her, the reason for her existence. She was their 'Queen', as they used to obey her and attempt to impress her. However after getting married, everything changed, she was treated as toy, 'a bit of fluff', meaning the husband played with her for a few days, acted kind then, then completley forgot about her after a couple of days. - She was left all alone. Perhaps this was fair punishment in the end, as she was treated in the exact same way, that she treated the men, and the poem explores the battle of the sexes quite darkly: the woman thrives on male attention when single, but cannot be independent of them, despite her power (i.e. she is on their journey, or 'sailing ship', not her own!) The poem's title (the great lords) is mostly ironic, as she delights in using her beauty to gain control over them, but has a tone of resignation and sadness as the Lord she chooses as a husband ultimately dominates her.

More detailed:- The poem 'Les Grands Seigneurs' is about a woman.This woman who is the speaker of the poem, is surrounded by many men, in her life. She
A typical courtly lover, 'wounded by Cupid's arrow
tells us men mean everything to her "men were my buttresses, my castellated towers" this is showing that the men are protecting and shielding her from danger, so she is no champion od women's equality. She also says that the men she is with are really handome by using birds which are brightly coloured to describe her men, but also show offs in a past age of 'courtly love' where the man worshipped the woman as an exaggerated and unattainable ideal of beauty. She certainly enjoys being put her on pedestal as she feels 'enthroned'.
The woman says "my performing seals", this shows that she is using the men for her good. She is just using them, for entertainment purposes. By using the word "dolphins" we usually think of dolphins perfoming tricks, and they do what they are told by their instructor. This then tells us that she is using the men for herself. "The ballast in my hold" shows us that the men are supporting her, she would be worth nothing if it wasn't for the men, which foregrounds the trouble she finds herself in later after she has chosen her husband, as he can abuse his power over her. The woman calls the men "My" this shows that she owns them, and she can get them to do what she wants, but the last stannza suggests this is only when she is unmarried. " I was their queen" shows that she is surrounded by men. They did everything to impress her-to treat her a queen yet "was" reveals it was like that in the past- "out of reach" also shows that she never let any men get close to her, even though they were trying to impress her, as she manipulated the courtly lovers.

The last stanza is where everything changes. After being married everything changed she was being treated badly. The husband only used her for the sex, then left her alone afterwards: "But after I was wedded, bedded, I bcame (yes overnight) a toy".The internal rhyme is pacy, urgent and angry as she is used and cast aside. Also, "My husband clicked.." shows that whenever the hhusband clicked his fingers she would have to obey what he tells her, as he is in charge now. It has become the opposite as before everyone was the woman's puppet, they did everything she was told. Perhaps her punishment is fitting as there is no attempt at equality within the relationships at any stage. In marriage the treatment of the woam reminds us of the mistreatment of the Duchess, in 'My Last Duchess' though perhaps she seems more of an innocent victim of male power.