“Indian Woman’s Death Song”

I found this poem particularly interesting because of its autobiographical nature. “Indian Woman’s Death Song” conveys the narrative of a mother abandoned by her husband, who had left her for another wife. Interestingly enough, Hemans herself was a mother of six that was deserted by her husband for another woman. In a way, Hemans uses the Native woman to avenge the happiness stolen from her–by her own husband–as she cannot do so herself. Furthermore, Hemans uses the outcast and abandoned Native woman to underline the issue of female segregation within culture and society due to man-made manacles. In this way, Hemans draws attention to her own plight as an outcast and as an abandoned wife and mother. Hemans garners empathy from readers early on in the work through the implementation of the introductory note, in which she describes the Native woman as “[a]n Indian woman, driven to despair by her husband’s desertion…” Through conveying the despair of a woman over her trivial and seemingly unimportant position as one of her husbands many wives, Hemans opposes and criticizes the objectification of women as inhuman, emotionless objects meant to endure the whims of men. Like Hemans herself, who began writing to support her children after the desertion of her husband, the Native mother takes her fate into her own hands as an active and living woman, rather than remaining passive, desperate, and helpless.  

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