The Complete Analysis of the poem Wife of the Husband by Micere Githae Mugo

Also Read

 Title of the poem 

The title "Wife of the Husband" suggests a traditional role where the woman's identity is defined in relation to her marital status. The poem explores the routine and burdensome tasks the wife undertakes, juxtaposed with the husband's obliviousness as he sleeps. The repetition of "His snores" highlights his detachment, emphasizing the wife's labor and the societal expectations tied to her role. The concluding call to "Arise, O, wife of the husband!" may signify both duty and a subtle challenge to societal norms, inviting reflection on the unequal distribution of responsibilities within the marital framework.

Themes of the poem

The poem "Wife of the Husband" by Micere Githae Mugo explores several themes:

1. **Gender Roles:** The poem delves into traditional gender roles, depicting the wife's responsibilities and burdens in contrast to the husband's obliviousness. It highlights societal expectations and the unequal distribution of roles within a marriage.

2. **Domestic Labor:** The poem focuses on the daily chores and burdensome tasks the wife performs, emphasizing the physical and emotional toll of domestic labor. The routine tasks symbolize the broader societal expectations placed on women.

3. **Sacrifice and Duty:** The wife's actions, from sweeping the hut to tending the hearth, reflect a sense of duty and sacrifice. The repetition of "Arise, O, wife of the husband!" at the end may underscore the societal expectations for women to fulfill their roles dutifully.

4. **Marital Dynamics:** The poem hints at a somewhat distant or detached relationship between the husband and wife, with his snores serving as a metaphor for his obliviousness to her struggles. The contrast between the husband's sleep and the wife's restless activities suggests a disconnect.

5. **Social Commentary:** There's a broader societal commentary on expectations placed

Tone and Mood of the poem

The tone of "Wife of the Husband" is contemplative and critical. The poet reflects on traditional gender roles and societal expectations with a discerning and thoughtful attitude. There is an observation of the wife's struggles and a critical examination of the husband's obliviousness, contributing to a tone that suggests a nuanced exploration of marital dynamics and societal norms.

The mood of the poem is somber and reflective. The portrayal of the wife's burdensome tasks, the repetitive nature of her duties, and the distant snores of the husband create an overall atmosphere of solemnity. The poem invites readers to reflect on the weight of societal expectations and the emotional toll of fulfilling prescribed roles. The call to "Arise, O, wife of the husband!" at the end adds a touch of urgency, hinting at a potential for change or a challenge to the status quo.

Imagery of the poem

The poem "Wife of the Husband" employs vivid imagery to convey its themes and emotions:

1. **Snores as a Shield:** The imagery of the husband's snores "protecting the sleeping hut" creates a contrasting image of security and obliviousness, highlighting his detachment from the wife's struggles.

2. **Burdened Mother:** The depiction of the "day’s load" and the "morrow’s burden" conveys a sense of heaviness and ongoing responsibilities, vividly capturing the weight of societal expectations on the wife.

3. **Stooping Mother:** The image of the mother stooping as she performs her tasks suggests both physical exhaustion and the emotional burden of her responsibilities.

4. **Tidying the Hearth:** The act of tidying the hearth is a visual representation of domestic labor, and burying the red charcoals adds a layer of finality to the day's activities.

5. **Restless Bed:** The description of the wife seeking her "restless bed" creates an image of discomfort and an inability to find peace, reinforcing the challenges she faces.

6. **Night and Morning Snores:** The repetition of "His snores" at different times of the night symbolizes the husband's consistent detachment and the wife's continuous struggle.

7. **Call to Arise:** The final call to "Arise, O, wife of the husband!" is a powerful image urging the wife to awaken not just physically but perhaps also socially or emotionally, emphasizing a sense of agency or awakening.

Overall, the poem's imagery paints a poignant picture of the wife's daily life, emphasizing the disparity in roles and the emotional toll of societal expectations.

Symbolism of the poem

"Wife of the Husband" by Micere Githae Mugo incorporates symbolism to convey deeper meanings:

1. **Snores:** The husband's snores serve as a symbol of his obliviousness and detachment from the wife's struggles. It represents a barrier between them, emphasizing the emotional and physical distance within the marital relationship.

2. **Sleeping Hut:** The hut can symbolize the domestic sphere, and the wife's actions within it reflect her assigned roles. It becomes a microcosm of societal expectations and the burden of traditional gender roles.

3. **Red Charcoals:** The burial of the red charcoals may symbolize the suppression or containment of passion, desire, or even frustration. The act of burying them could suggest the wife's need to conceal or control her emotions within the societal framework.

4. **Arising:** The repeated call for the wife to "Arise" at the end of the poem goes beyond a literal awakening. It symbolizes a call to action, empowerment, or a challenge to the established norms. It suggests a potential for the wife to assert herself or question the predefined roles imposed on her.

5. **Night and Morning Snores:** The different timings of the husband's snores may symbolize the cyclical nature of the wife's struggles, highlighting that her burdens continue throughout the night and into the morning without reprieve.

6. **Tidying the Hearth:** The act of tidying the hearth can symbolize the woman's effort to maintain order and warmth in the household. It represents her commitment to her domestic duties despite the challenges.

Overall, these symbols enrich the poem, providing layers of meaning that extend beyond the surface narrative and invite readers to contemplate the societal dynamics and personal struggles depicted in the verses.

Metaphors and similes

"Wife of the Husband" incorporates metaphors and similes to enhance its imagery and convey deeper meanings:

1. **Metaphor - His Snores as a Shield:** The husband's snores are metaphorically described as a protective shield for the sleeping hut. This implies not only the physical protection provided by his presence but also the emotional distance and shielded awareness of his wife's struggles.

2. **Simile - Weigh Heavily Over:** The day’s load and the morrow’s burden are described as weighing heavily over the stooping mother. This simile emphasizes the oppressive nature of societal expectations, comparing them to a heavy physical burden.

3. **Metaphor - Tidies the Hearth:** The act of tidying the hearth is a metaphor for the woman's ongoing effort to maintain the warmth and order within the household. It extends beyond a literal cleaning task to symbolize her commitment to the domestic sphere.

4. **Simile - Buries the Red Charcoals:** The burying of the red charcoals is likened to a symbolic act. The simile suggests that the woman is burying or suppressing emotions, desires, or frustrations, using the charcoals as a representation of these hidden aspects.

5. **Metaphor - Restless Bed:** The wife seeking her restless bed is a metaphor for her inability to find peace or solace. It symbolizes not only physical restlessness but also emotional unrest within the confines of her societal role.

6. **Simile - Arise, O, Wife of the Husband:** The call to "Arise" is a simile

Language and diction

The language and diction in "Wife of the Husband" contribute to the poem's tone and convey its themes effectively. Some notable aspects include:

1. **Sensory Language:** The poem incorporates sensory language, using descriptions that appeal to the senses. For example, the mention of "red charcoals" invokes a visual and tactile image, and references to snores create an auditory experience.

2. **Symbolic Language:** The use of symbols such as snores, the sleeping hut, and the red charcoals adds layers of meaning. These symbols are woven into the language, creating a rich tapestry of imagery that extends beyond the literal to convey broader themes.

3. **Repetition:** The repetition of phrases like "His snores" and "Arise, O, wife of the husband!" serves as a rhetorical device. It emphasizes key elements, such as the husband's obliviousness and the societal call to the wife, reinforcing these themes throughout the poem.

4. **Descriptive Diction:** The choice of descriptive words, such as "stooping mother," "burdens," and "restless bed," enhances the vividness of the imagery. These words contribute to the portrayal of the wife's struggles and the weight of her responsibilities.

5. **Conciseness:** The poet uses concise and impactful language to convey complex emotions and societal commentary. This contributes to the poem's brevity while still allowing for depth of expression.

6. **Metaphorical Language:** Metaphors, such as snores as a shield and tidying the hearth as a metaphor for domestic responsibilities, add depth to the language. They provide readers with a nuanced understanding of the themes explored in the poem.

7. **Imperative Language:** The imperative tone

Structure of the poem

The structure of "Wife of the Husband" plays a crucial role in conveying the poem's themes and emotions. Here are some aspects of its structure:

1. **Stanzas:** The poem is structured into stanzas of varying lengths. The stanzas are not uniform, contributing to a sense of irregularity and perhaps mirroring the unpredictability of the wife's daily life.

2. **Repetition:** The repetition of the phrase "His snores" and the concluding line "Arise, O, wife of the husband!" creates a sense of rhythm. This repetition serves to emphasize key elements and contributes to the overall structure by providing a recurring motif.

3. **Enjambment:** The use of enjambment, where lines run into each other without a pause, gives the poem a flowing and connected feel. This technique can symbolize the seamless continuation of the wife's daily struggles.

4. **Shift in Time:** The poem shifts between night and morning, using the husband's snores as markers. This temporal shift adds a dynamic element to the structure, reflecting the ongoing nature of the wife's responsibilities.

5. **Concluding Line:** The final line, "Arise, O, wife of the husband!" stands out as a powerful conclusion. Its position at the end of the poem gives it emphasis, and the imperative tone leaves a lasting impression, suggesting a call to action or awakening.

6. **Imagery Placement:** The arrangement of vivid imagery contributes to the overall structure. The progression from the husband's snores protecting the hut to the wife's restless seeking of her bed creates a visual and emotional journey.

7. **Symbolic Sequencing:** The sequence of actions, from sweeping the hut to burying the red charcoals and seeking rest

Sound and rhythm

The poem "Wife of the Husband" exhibits a notable use of sound and rhythm, contributing to its overall impact:

1. **Alliteration:** The repetition of consonant sounds, as seen in phrases like "snores," "sleeping," and "stooping mother," creates a rhythmic and melodic quality. Alliteration enhances the auditory experience, making the verses more engaging.

2. **Assonance:** The repetition of vowel sounds, such as in "load" and "morrows," adds a musical quality to the language. Assonance contributes to the poem's rhythm and helps create a cohesive and harmonious flow.

3. **Repetition:** The repetition of certain phrases, like "His snores" and "Arise, O, wife of the husband!" not only emphasizes key themes but also establishes a recurring rhythmic pattern, providing a sense of structure.

4. **Internal Rhyme:** Instances of internal rhyme, where words within the same line rhyme, contribute to the poem's musicality. For example, in the line "weigh heavily over," the internal rhyme enhances the flow of the verse.

5. **Variation in Line Length:** The poem incorporates variation in line lengths, contributing to a natural cadence. This variation helps maintain reader engagement and mirrors the ebb and flow of the wife's daily struggles.

6. **Imagery and Sound Integration:** The vivid imagery is often paired with sounds, such as the snores "protecting the sleeping hut." This integration of sensory experiences enhances the auditory quality of the poem


The syntax of "Wife of the Husband" plays a crucial role in shaping the poem's meaning and conveying its themes. Some aspects of syntax include:

1. **Parallel Structure:** The poem often employs parallel structure in phrases like "sweeps the hut, bolts the pen, tidies the hearth." This structure emphasizes a series of actions, reinforcing the routine and burdensome nature of the wife's tasks.

2. **Ellipsis:** The use of ellipsis, as seen in "weigh heavily over," creates a pause that invites reflection. This syntactical choice adds emphasis to the weight of the burdens the wife carries.

3. **Imperative Sentences:** The imperative tone is evident in lines like "Arise, O, wife of the husband!" The use of imperative sentences imparts a sense of command or urgency, contributing to the overall tone of the poem.

4. **Descriptive Phrasing:** Descriptive phrases, such as "restless bed" and "red charcoals," contribute to the imagery and help evoke specific emotions. The placement of adjectives and adverbs within the syntax enhances the poem's sensory impact.

5. **Shifts in Syntax for Emphasis:** The placement of key phrases at the beginning or end of lines creates emphasis. For instance, the repetition of "His snores" at the beginning of lines draws attention to the husband's obliviousness and detachment.

6. **Fragmented Sentences:** The poem occasionally uses fragmented sentences, such as "Arise, O, wife of the husband!" These fragments add a sense of abruptness and intensity, underlining the urgency of the call to action.

7. Inverted Syntax: Inversion is observed in phrases like "Arise, O, wife of the husband!" where the typical word order is altered for emphasis. This inversion adds a poetic and archaic quality to the language, heightening the impact of the imperative command.These syntactical choices collectively contribute to the poem's structure, rhythm, and emphasis, enhancing its ability to convey the complexities of marital relationships and societal expectations.


The context of "Wife of the Husband" by Micere Githae Mugo is influenced by the poet's cultural and social background. Micere Githae Mugo is a Kenyan writer and academic known for her contributions to literature and her involvement in socio-political issues. Born in 1942, she has been a prominent figure in the literary and academic spheres, focusing on themes related to gender, identity, and African culture.

The poem reflects the societal norms and gender roles prevalent in many traditional African communities, where women are often expected to fulfill specific domestic responsibilities. The title itself, "Wife of the Husband," suggests a focus on marital dynamics and the role of women within the context of marriage.

Additionally, Mugo's works are known for their engagement with political and feminist themes. The poem can be seen as a commentary on the unequal distribution of responsibilities within a patriarchal structure. The symbolic elements, such as the burying of red charcoals and the repeated call for the wife to arise, indicate a desire for empowerment and perhaps a subtle challenge to established norms.

Understanding the cultural and societal context of Mugo's work provides insights into the deeper layers of meaning in the poem. It invites readers to consider the intersections of gender, tradition, and societal expectations, and to reflect on the challenges faced by women in navigating these dynamics.

Post a Comment


Leave a comment behind

Post a Comment (0)

#buttons=(Ok, Go it!) #days=(20)

Our website uses cookies to enhance your experience. Learn more
Ok, Go it!