When discussing The Douglas Tragedy in Friday’s class, ambiguities regarding the tone of the poem were raised. While the plot of the poem was one of a serious, romantic tragedy, someone in class pointed out the lines “I’ll gang, I’ll gang, Lord William,” She said, “For ye have left me no other guide” are funny, implying that the tone of this poem may have intended to be more comedic. Although there is no way of truly knowing the intention of the author(s) of this poem, I find the ambiguity in tone significant, as the readers interpretation of the ambiguity ultimately affects the purpose and meaning of the poem. If interpreted as a serious tragedy, I interpret the purpose of this poem, in the context of the time, to be a warning against going against your family’s wishes. However, if I interpret it as a comedy, the poem points out how men are committing bad actions while the woman have no power and can only watch. Therefore, its purpose is not as a warning but instead to shed light on the sexism in traditional romantic tragedies.
This ambiguity brings up a broader question about interpreting poetry. Is the intended meaning (by the author) of the poem the only valid one? As long as it is supported by evidence, can an unintended meaning or alternative interpretation of a poem be valid as well? I realize that as the intended meaning of The Douglas Tragedy is unknown, and as a result, both these interpretations are valid. Therefore, these questions are directed more towards poetry in which the intended meanings by the authors are more known.