A Complaint Against A Lover's Complaint
I hereby issue a formal complaint against the misnomer of the maid’s tale known as “A Lover’s Complaint.” The maid described is set up as a helpless, woeful woman lamenting a love as she methodically disposes of various love tokens and letters. While there is undeniably an aspect of sorrow to her tale, the recitation of her tale is one of opposite temperament. Her seemingly vacant gazing into space, her outbursts, tearing letters and trampling them, and tenor of her tale portray a justifiably angry woman. Wronged by a lover who wanted no more than to take advantage of her infatuation, the young woman of this narrative tells her story so others do not fall prey to him. The particularly galling truth she wishes to convey is the depth of his deception and manipulation. It is not shocking that she would be upset after he appeals to her in apparent raw, emotional distress until she succumbs to his “hell of witchcraft […] in the small orb of one particular tear” (line 288-289). She laments having fallen to his charms, but more than that she laments the “infected moisture of his eye […] that false fire which in his cheek so glowed […] that forced thunder from his heart […] that sad breath his spongy lungs bestowed […] all that borrowed motion seeming owed” (line 323-327). Her fall was his joy. Thus her tale is no mere complaint but rather an angry, sorrowful warning.
Cover image credit @krayzzer77