Summary Of Edna St. Vincent Millay's A Few Figs From Thistles

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Throughout the 1920s, a woman’s life in the United States was rapidly changing. These changes, which allowed women to possess more control over their own lives, are the subject of Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poems in A Few Figs from Thistles. Perhaps most noteworthy is the fact that, during the 1920s, women began to experience the taste of freedom in regard to their individual lives. With this freedom came a whole slew of new opportunities for women, which includes staying out late, defying preexisting social norms, and even living the life they choose, among other things. Without a doubt, St. Vincent Millay’s “First Fig”, “Recuerdo”, and “Midnight Oil” all focus on going out for a night on the town and staying up far too late just to indulge…show more content…
(St. Vincent Millay 1-4).
In this poem, readers can see that during this period, women were beginning to question and rebel against the expectations society placed upon them. As St. Vincent Millay points out, women were now enjoying their freedom, but society still expected them to return to a placid lifestyle once they got married. As a result of the aforementioned expectation, a crucial question arises: why must a woman abandon her freedom in exchange for marriage? Instead of complying with this age-old constraint, St. Vincent Millay challenges the expectations placed upon women in the last line of “The Singing-Woman from the Wood’s Edge” by stating, “What should I be but just what I am?” (St. Vincent Millay 36). This line shows that, women were beginning to live life how they wanted during the 1920s, possessing more control over their individuality than ever before. Furthermore, as urged by St. Vincent Millay, a woman’s individuality was something to be expressed and impervious to other’s expectations. However, these changes in women’s lives are for both the better and worse. Specifically, these changes allowed women the aforementioned freedom they never had, which helped to better the lives of women around the country and worked towards achieving equality. However, since women never possessed this much freedom before, it was possible for some women to get in way over their heads. That is, not knowing how to utilize freedom appropriately
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Most notably, the idea of a woman dating multiple men for fun—and not necessarily for love—emerges from several of St. Vincent Millay’s poems. For example, in “Thursday” she writes, “I loved you Wednesday,—yes—but what / Is that to me?” (St. Vincent Millay 7-8). This quote shows that, much like how the days of the week change every day, a woman’s love interest can change at the drop of a hat. This highlights the nonchalant attitude women began to adopt concerning relationships with men—that is, dating was now a pastime and not necessarily a serious, long-term commitment that eventually leads to marriage. Owing to this laid-back attitude, one can only expect that a woman would prefer to keep her options open. For instance, St. Vincent Millay captures this in “To the Not Impossible Him” through the last
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