Among the three texts, Hardy’s work is written the earliest. The poem describes the encounter of two women who used to be from the same village and work as laborers. The dialogue between the two reveals that one of them has climbed the social ladder: wearing expensive clothing and jewelry and speaking with a polished accent. While her friend questions her for all these positive changes, the woman only answers plainly, “O didn’t you know I have been ruined?” (line 4). Although such lines on being ruined suggest that the woman sees her marriage in a negative light, her casual tone reveals that she has expected marriage to be unpleasant. It appears that the woman in the poem married out of necessity to improve her social status and is willing to accept any negative consequences. Hardy uses a comic tone and narration to write about the misery behind a seemingly lucky and happy wife. Indeed, during the time period when Hardy composed the poem, women were not on equal footing with their husbands, and marriage was often seen as an instrument to escape poverty as single women could hardly support themselves financially. Unlike the other two texts, “The Ruined Maid” does not mention any compromise or struggle between the wife and husband as it is almost certain that the wife has to be all submissive for the financial and social benefits she receives through marriage.
In this regard, Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephant” is more nuanced as it depicts the interaction between two lovers while they discuss a critical matter—abortion. -abortion. Although there is no clear reference on marriage, the dialogue between the two suggests that the two characters in the story are as intimate as a married couple. Their interactions are also representative of those between two people who are in a relationship. Although it appears that the man and the woman in the story are on equal footings, the man remains the more powerful one, similar to the situation depicted in Hardy's poem. When the man attempts to convince his partner to have the operation, the woman does not respond at all-she avoids the conversation by staring down. The woman's attitude softens when the man promises that they "can have everything" and after the operation the two of them will be happy like before. The woman shows resistance towards the man's constant suggestion of an abortion; however, at the end, she claims that she "there's nothing wrong with [her]. [She] feel[s] fine." This suggests that she is willing to compromise to appease her partner. She may view that it is necessary for her to have the operation in order to rescue the relationship from jeopardy. It is unclear whether the woman finally agrees to have the abortion but the struggle and compromise portrayed by the dialogue and interactions between the two characters are one of the main components of marriage.
In Hardy's poem, the woman compromises her life as an independent person for a higher social status, while the narrator in Corso's "Marriage" seems ready to compromise partly due to his belief that it is necessary for a man to get married to fend off the fear of old age and loneliness. Corso's