· Lady Mary's poem inverts the form of Ovidian heroic epistle by making
her letter-writer a man instead of a woman. However, since the man is
from the working class, he is in a position similar to that of women in
general in 18th century society-i.e. powerless in many ways. Moreover, the
crime of rape may be understood as less about sexual desire than about the
desire for power.
· The poet/ Lady Mary identifies with the footman's feelings, purposely drawing a parallel between women and the lower classes.
· This poem may be thought of as satirizing class distinctions and as an extension, the plight of women with the purpose of facilitating change.
· The poem could also be seen as making a general statement about the nature of love: love is universal and does not recognize arbitrary boundaries of class [or gender].
· Lady Mary's conflation of women with servants is an ingenious way to criticize social hierarchies, both gender related and class related.
· In line 6, Arthur Gray asks to "be pitied", he asks again in line 93, and he finally ends the poem by stating to his lover that if she would simply feel some compassion for him, his death will not be in vain.
By extension of this last concept of the lover imploring to be pitied, one may see that Lady Mary is imploring her own reader to have pity on the state of women's position in society and of the position of the lower classes. (If they do, her poem would not be in vain or merely vanity). Just as the poet asks for understanding from his beloved (the one in a station above him), so does Lady Mary ask this of her male and upper class readers, as understanding of the position of others is a first step towards social change. Lady Mary was of course, of the upper-classes herself, but it appears that her intelligence and personal morals led her to be socially conscious. She was clever enough to grasp that rape is a crime of power and seized the opportunity of this public event to use it as a metaphor to make her assertions. The use of inversions in the poem may be seen of as another means of evincing understanding by placing the reader in the 'shoes' of his/her inferiors.