The Orphan Girl Summary, Themes, and Analysis: Henry Derozio

Read our complete notes on the poem “The Orphan Girl” by Henry Derozio. Our notes cover The Orphan Girl summary, themes, and critical analysis.

The Orphan Girl Introduction:

Henry Louis Vivian Derozio is a well-known and predominant nineteenth-century poet. Derozio, in the poet The orphan Girl speaks of a young girl father has died in the war while his mother died lamenting her husband’s death. In the cruel world, the girl is left orphan having no one to take care of.

The poem is divided into two main part each having twelve lines. Every two verses rhyme with each other except the first four verse.

The Orphan Girl Summary:

Part 1

The speaker begins by telling the appearance of the orphan girl. The speaker says that she has black hair like Raven’s (crow) wings and checks as bright as the tulip flower. Moreover, she has a soft voice just like the rustling, calm and gentle wind or air at night time. Similarly, her forehead is as cheerful as the moon rays.  In the beginning, the speaker has a quite pleasing tone, yet after the fourth verse, the tone changes and turns to illustrate the dark realities of life.

The speaker informs the readers about the death of the young girl’s father. Her father went to the war and bravely fought there, yet eventually died. Before dying, the father knew that he will die. The speaker mourns that in this world, the brave are rewarded by the martyrdom. This phrase shows the brutality of the world and how it treats the courageous and brave people.

Her mother couldn’t bear the death of her husband and died of the heart attack. Ultimately, the girl is left orphan in the cruel world.

Part 2

The speaker in the second part of the poet refers to the young girl’s uncertainty in this world. In this cold and bleak world, the world that lacks human warmth and hope, the little young orphan has no friends at all. She is friendless, had no relatives to provide her shelter, home, and little affection. She is destined to live a desolate, dull and depressing life. The world is compared to the desert.

The poet reiterates the verses and warns the young girl to be good and kind as the world is full of cruel people who will scorn her, mock her and abuse her. Ultimately, the cruel world will kill her.

Furthermore, the poet laments over the fact that as a girl, the shame she will have to suffer will be sufficient to bleed her breasts. She will be oppressed by the world by putting the weight of sorrows and guilt on her shoulder.

To wound a woman (bosom) who is already bleeding from the breast because of the sorrows and shame is very brutal. The tears of the woman coming out of sorrow and oppression are the most painful tears.

At the end of the poem, the speaker appreciates those who shelters an orphan from sorrow and shame. According to the poet, those people are the most blessed and honorable people. Though the poet ends the poem with hope, yet he still is uncertain about the future of the young orphan girl.

The Orphan Girl Themes:

The poem has various themes. Initially, the poet discusses the bad effects of the war and the cruelty of the world for brave and courageous people. The poet moans that in this world, the brave are rewarded by the martyrdom. This phrase shows the brutality of the world and how it treats the courageous and brave people. Moreover, the dead leave their children alone in this cruel, friendless world, having no one to take care of them.

The poet moves our attention to the circumstances that a woman faced when she is left alone in this world. The poem has a universal impact, it is not specific for a particular area and time. Even today, a lonely woman faces a lot of tortures. A woman, who has no one to take care of, lives a shameful life full of physical, mental, and sexual abuse and are enormously tortured by the so-called humans.

The Orphan Girl Critical Analysis:

Structure:

Though the poem The Orphan Girl is not a sonnet, it does has a strict structure that can be divided into two parts. The poem is divided into two stanzas, each stanza focusing on the specific part of the story. In the first stanza, the poet focuses on the description of both the young girl and her parents, as well as their deaths. While the second stanza focuses on what will happen to the young poor little girl when both parents are dead.

Sound:

The sound analysis of the poem not only refers to the rhyming scheme of the poem, but also to the emphasis that the poet tries to create through repetition of words, such as alteration, consonance, and assonance. The rhyming scheme of the poem “The Orphan Girl” is quite unique. The poem starts with a rhyming pattern of abab, describing the beauty of the young girl. The rhyming scheme then switches to BBCC and so on. The distinguishing first four verses of the poem emphasizes on the girl’s beauty that makes the readers empathize with the poor girl.

Sense:

The poem, besides having a surface meaning also has a deep meaning. Yet this poem is written simple describing the life of an orphan girl after the death of her parents. She is desolate and the world scorns her until she is sheltered by some kind-hearted person.

Literary devices:

Her hair was black as a raven’s wings, (Simile)

Her cheek the tulip’s hue did wear, (Metaphor)

Her voice was soft as when night winds sing, (Simile)

Her brow was as a moonbeam fair; (simile)

Her sire had joined the wake of war;- (Alliteration)

The battle-shock, the shout, and scar (Alliteration)

He knew, and gained a glorious grave-

Such is the guerdon of the brave!-

Her anguished mother’s suffering heart

Could not endure a widow’s part;

She sunk beneath her soul’s distress,

And left her infant parentless.-

 

She hath no friend on this cold, bleak earth, personification

To give her shelter, a home, and a hearth; (Alliteration)

Through life’s dreary desert alone she must wend, (Alliteration + metaphor)

For alas! the wretched have never a friend!

And should she stray from virtue’s way,

The world will scorn, and its scorn can slay.

Ah! Shame hath enough to wring the breast

With a weight of sorrow and guilt oppres’d;

But oh! ’tis coldly cruel to wound (Alliteration)

The bosom whose blood must gush unbound.

No tear is so bright as the tear that flows

For erring woman’s unpitied woes;

And blest be for ever his honoured name

Who shelters an orphan from sorrow and shame! (Alliteration)