In his poem “The Farmer’s Wife,” Thomas Hardy presents a simple and straightforward tribute to the love and devotion of his wife. The farmer, a simple man, reminisces about his wife’s beauty, kindness, hard work, and unwavering love. He concludes by expressing his deep grief over her loss. Read More 1st PUC English Summaries.
The Farmer’s Wife Summary
The Farmer’s Wife Summary in English
The poem ‘The Farmer’s Wife’ by the Volga begins with the lamentation of the farmer’s wife, who laments over the death of her husband. However, in her lamentation, it is clear that more than mourning over the death of her husband, she expresses her grief over the hopelessness of the situation. Her husband has committed suicide because he was unable to face the creditors. However, his act is not considered an irresponsible act. In fact, people may even think of his act as the virtuous act of a self-respecting man who did not want to bend his head and stretch his arm. But the woman points out that, by committing suicide he has left the woman behind, to bend her head and stretch her hand as she has to continue to live at least for the sake of her four children.
The woman ironically adds that bending the head and stretching the arm pose no problem to her as she has always done that. She has always done that as women are always pushed to the low level. But she cannot understand how her husband, who had always asserted his right over her, simply by virtue of being a man, could drink poison and get released from the worldly bonds in a cowardly way. The woman, in her questioning of his act, implies that his irresponsible act has poisoned her very existence. She suggests that when living was worse than death, embracing death was a selfish and even cruel act on the part of the man as he had no thought for the family that he left behind.
The woman is shocked that the man, who could kick and bully her with the claim of superiority over her, could give her the final death blow by committing suicide. At this point, the woman compares the hardship she suffered in the family over the years and the problem of the cotton crop being destroyed that year. She points out that the pain she had undergone was for a longer period of time, but she had withstood it. The problem of the cotton crop, as she says, ‘is but yesterday’s.’ The juxtaposition of the two problems is done to show that men buckle under pressure more easily than women. Men are self-centred too and when they take recourse to escapism, they don’t give any thought to what would happen to their family. They are not worried over the future of their children either. Hence it becomes double jeopardy for the woman.
On the one hand, she has to come to terms with the death of her husband, on the other she has to worry over the future of her children. Here also the poet draws an analogy between the natural crop and the children. The woman points out that when the crop failed, her husband committed suicide; if she were to do the same thing, her children wouldn’t have a bright future. She adds that she is not prepared to allow the harvest of her womb to perish. She cannot leave her children helpless like the worm-eaten cotton pods in the wind. The woman rightly points out that meeting one’s end is over in a moment. It’s not a long struggle. But the struggle in life, for life to sustain and continue, is a long struggle, full of perils. For this, one needs a brave heart.
Only the one with a firm heart will analyse the difficult situation with questions like, ‘What of this?’ or ‘Why is this?’ When a person asks, ‘What of this?’, he probably wonders about what would be the final outcome of all the struggle. When he asks, ‘Why is this?’, he definitely has a sense of self-pity. Yet he should never lose his reasoning ability and the determination to fight his misfortune. Otherwise, his children would become orphans. That is why the farmer’s wife asserts that she would continue to live to teach her children how to live.
She wants to instil in her children the fighting spirit which her husband lacked. That is why she says that she would continue to be alive to teach her children to fight with a clenched fist for not only the basic need of food but also more important things, attaining which might be nothing less than a battle. For this, she pledges to embrace life and not death, though life would present a long and painful struggle.
Thus the poem is a tribute paid to the dauntless spirit of the woman and a plea to the weak-hearted not to lose hope.
The speaker of “The Farmer’s Wife” concludes by expressing his deep grief over the loss of his wife, but also his gratitude for the time they had together and his determination to keep her memory alive. The poem’s conclusion is a powerful and moving tribute to the power of love and the resilience of the human spirit.