Wedlock

Wedlock

by Benjamin Franklin

Wedlock, as old men note, hath likened been,
Unto a public crowd or common rout;
Where those that are without would fain get in,
And those that are within, would fain get out.
Grief often treads upon the heels of pleasure,
Marry’d in haste, we oft repent at leisure;
Some by experience find these words misplaced,
Marry’d at leisure, they repent in haste.

Literary Analysis

The poem “Wedlock” is about the state of being married, and its major theme is contradictory views of marriage and whether it is good or bad. However, the subsidiary themes of repentance and grief are also intertwined with the major theme of conjugal love. The title “Wedlock” could refer to marriage as a beautiful incident. However, the content of the poem throws a new and satiric light on marriage, as the speaker or the poet also highlights the potential grief and repentance involved in this type of relationship.

The tone of the poem is judgmental, and the statuses of being married and not married are up for debate. The poet writes in an omniscient third person point of view, and has observed attitudes and views of people about marriage. He begins the poem by giving views of old people about the states of being married or unmarried. According to him, most adults favor marriage, and that it is common: as old men note, hath likened been, / Unto a public crowd or common rout.” Then he talks about the opinions of the majority of people. People who have not married yet strongly wish to get married: “where those that are without would fain get in.” Married people, however, wish to get rid of this bond, and want divorce. He states that there are pleasures in marriage, but “grief often treads upon the heels of pleasure.”

Commenting on this state of affairs in highly connotative and suggestive language, the poet has outlined positive aspects of marriage in the first three lines. The rest of the poem turns into a debate about its negative and positive aspects. He says that those who are married do not live in pleasure, because “Marry’d in haste, we oft repent at leisure.” It is a similar sentiment to the popular saying “haste makes waste.” His ultimate message is that marriage should not be entered lightly. The reason for this is that both parties can have overly high expectations of the other, and when their dreams do not come true as they expect, they feel disenchanted. However, some people might find these words misplaced.” This is because, as the poet states, “Marry’d at leisure, they repent in haste.” Thus, those who take their time entering marriage have an equal chance of feeling sorry about the commitment.

Structural Analysis

This is a romantic lyric poem that contains only two stanzas, each comprised of four lines. The rhyme scheme is regular ABAB, as shown below:

Wedlock, as old men note, hath likened been,  A
Unto a public crowd or common rout;   B
Where those that are without would fain get in,    A
And those that are within, would fain get out.    B

The poem is written in alternating iambic and trochaic pentameter, as “Wedlock, as old men note, hath likened been / Unto a public crowd or common rout.” The diction used in the poem is simple and understandable without having any connotative meanings.

Enjambment runs throughout the entire poem, as the meaning of a line moves into the next line such asWhere those that are without would fain get in, / And those that are within, would fain get out.” End-stopped lines occur just twice, each at the end of the stanza. Alliteration is used in different lines such as in these words:“crowd and common” and “where, without, would.” There is assonance in the lines containing “old/note” and “crowd/rout.”

In addition, hypotaxis is used in this poem. The main idea is wedlock, and entire poem is written with subordinate sentences that explain the main idea such as, “Wedlock, as old men note, hath likened been, / Unto a public crowd or common rout.This helps in expressing the individual thoughts of the poet through subordinate clauses.

Guidance for Usage of Quotes

This poem is a discourse about marriage. It can be a beautiful thing, but people also undergo grief, remorse, and regret due to staying in marital relationships. Thus, marriage can have both positive and negative effects. Many adults love the concept of marriage. Happily married couples can use and dedicate parts of this poem to each other. Newlyweds can also send the first three lines to each other on wedding anniversaries, which signify the importance of romantic relationships:

Wedlock, as old men note, hath likened been,
Unto a public crowd or common rout;
Where those that are without would fain get in.”

However, dejected and disappointed couples can also relate to parts of this poem as in:

“Marry’d in haste, we oft repent at leisure;
Some by experience find these words misplaced,
Marry’d at leisure, they repent in haste.”

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