Crystal Rivas October 15, 2010
Reading Response of Mary Howitt’s “The Spider and the Fly”
Mary Howitt’s “The Spider and the Fly” is a poetic fable. It presents a story of an interaction between a spider and a fly. The spider works to persuade the fly to go into his den, but the fly is well aware that those who go with the spider are never seen again. The poem is a fable for children revealing a moral that one should beware and not fall for pretty words from strangers. However, the lesson in “The Spider and the Fly” can also be applied to teenagers and adults in the form of rape.
As a male would a female, the spider greets the fly and tries to entice her to come into his parlour. “‘Will you walk into my parlour?’ said the spider to the Fly,/ ‘Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy’”(1-2). There is a feeling of a male encountering a female and trying to compel the female to go with him to his home. The fact that Howitt chooses to make the spider a male and the fly a female gives a feeling of a perverse intentions as he keeps using different methods to try and convince her to do as he desires, constantly thinking of new things to compel her with. “‘Said the cunning Spider to the Fly, " Dear friend what can I do, / To prove the warm affection I 've always felt for you? / I have within my pantry, good store of all that's nice;/ I'm sure you're very welcome -- will you please to take a slice?’”(13-16) The fly denies the spider, well aware of the warnings of the spider but she is eventually swayed by pretty flattering words:
"Sweet creature!" said the Spider, "you're witty and you're wise, How handsome are your gauzy wings, how brilliant are your eyes! I've a little looking-glass upon my parlour shelf, If you'll step in one moment, dear, you shall behold yourself." "I thank you, gentle sir," she said, "for what you 're pleased to say, And bidding you good morning now, I'll call another day..." [19-24]
Within this stanza Howitt also reveals the gender of the spider and the fly. Like a rapist would a female the spider swooped down and dragged the fly to his den where she was devoured, after calling her over with sweet words. “Thinking only of her crested head -- poor foolish thing! At last,/ Up jumped the cunning Spider, and fiercely held her fast. / He dragged her up his winding stair, into his dismal den, / Within his little parlour -- but she ne'er came out again!” (37-40).
“The Spider and the Fly” by Mary Howitt conveys a moral within a poem. With pretty flattering word the spider forced the fly into his lair and devoured her. A rapist could be consider the spider and force a girl into sexual activities. It’s apparent that one must be wary of strangers who offer sweet words, they could be a hungry spider in search of a meal.