English Language Arts, Reading Literature
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
High School
  • George Bernard Shaw
  • Grade 12 ELA
  • Literature
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial

    The Ruined Maid Poem

    The Ruined Maid Poem


    Lesson Overview

    In this lesson, students will read Thomas Hardy’s poem, “The Ruined Maid,” and work in small groups to paraphrase sentences in the poem. They will also begin to draw connections between the poem and Pygmalion.


    • Read the lesson and student content.
    • Anticipate student difficulties and identify the differentiation options you will choose for working with your students.

    Act 1 of Pygmalion Recap

    • Allow about 3 minutes for students to write.
    • As they share with their group, listen in to search for gaps in understanding.
      • ELL: As students work in groups, monitor to be sure that all students are able to contribute and participate productively.
    • Facilitate a Whole Group Share about act 1.
    • Use probing questions to clarify understanding:
      • ✓ Why does the Flower Girl protest so strongly about the Note Taker?
      • ✓ At the beginning, the Mother, Daughter, and Freddy are trying to get a taxi. At the end, the Flower Girl plans to take a taxi. What is the issue about taking a taxi?
      • ✓ Is taking a taxi just a setting detail or does it indicate something about who generally takes a taxi and who doesn’t?
      • ✓ Ask students to share what was difficult in reading.
      • ✓ Ask in what ways the play has to do with social class.
      • SWD: Consider providing students a summary of the big ideas in this class discussion to reinforce the important concepts covered.
    • Add important ideas about social class to the class Social Class Terms chart. (For example, that the way a person speaks can determine social class; or changing dialects or using different idioms may change a person’s perspective of the speaker.)


    Complete a Quick Write.

    • Why is Liza (the Flower Girl) so excited about riding in a taxi?

    Open Notebook

    Share your responses to your Quick Write with your triad group. Once you have shared, review act 1 with your group.

    Then join in a conversation with the whole group about act 1.

    "The Ruined Maid"

    • “The Ruined Maid” is a poem by 19th-century British writer Thomas Hardy.
    • After students have marked words they don’t know, and after you or other students have supplied definitions or explanations or pronunciations for the words, read the poem aloud.
    • Some terms students may have trouble with include:
      • ✓ crown (line 1): top
      • ✓ whence (line 3): from where
      • ✓ tatters (line 5): rags
      • ✓ spudding up docks (line 6): digging herbs
      • ✓ barton (line 9): farmyard
      • ✓ 'ee (line 11): you
      • ✓ megrims (line 19): sick headaches
    • You may want to cover or review ballad, quatrain, iambic, and irony.
      • ✓ A ballad is a narrative poem, originally of folk origin, usually focusing upon a climactic episode and told without comment. The most common form is a quatrain of alternating four- and three-stress iambic lines, with the second and fourth lines rhyming. Often the ballad will employ a refrain—that is, the last line of each stanza will be identical or similar.
      • ✓ A quatrain is a four-line stanza that may incorporate various metrical patterns.
      • ✓ An iamb, or an iambic foot, consists of an unaccented syllable followed by an accented syllable (e.g., funny, phantom).
      • ✓ Irony is the use of language in which the intended meaning is different from or opposite to the literal meaning.
      • ELL: As with other discussions, encourage students to use the vocabulary they have learned. Be sure that students are participating and follow up on interventions that seem unclear or ambiguous. Help students who make grammar mistakes by rephrasing, but do it only when your rephrasing will not become an interruption or interfere with their thinking.
    • An example of a Think Aloud for the poem is provided (“The Ruined Maid” Think Aloud).
    • Call on at least two students, one a girl and one a boy, to read the poem aloud again.
    • Ask students to paraphrase each sentence (not line) in the poem. If necessary, model with an example from the second annotated version of the poem (“The Ruined Maid” Paraphrase).

    Work Time

    Poet Thomas Hardy was a contemporary of George Bernard Shaw.

    • Read Hardy’s poem “The Ruined Maid” silently and note any words you don’t know or understand.
    • Share those words with the class.
    • Next, listen as “The Ruined Maid” is read aloud by some of your classmates.
    • Then read and annotate the poem silently for sentence sense, and write what each sentence says in your own words.

    Open Notebook

    The Most Important Word

    • Allow about 3 minutes for students to write.
      • SWD: The Quick Write is an important skill, but one that might overwhelm students who are struggling writers. If you think students need the additional support, consider side-by-side coaching and limit the number of sentences.
    • Facilitate a discussion about the responses.
      • ✓ This is an opportunity to celebrate the differences in responses.
      • ✓ For each student who shares, make sure she or he explains why the word is important.
      • ✓ Keep pushing students to go back to the poem to support their reasoning.

    Work Time

    Complete a Quick Write.

    • What is the most important word (or short phrase) in the poem and why?

    Open Notebook

    Discuss your response to the Quick Write question with your classmates.

    About "The Ruined Maid"

    • Give students time to go back to the poem to read, discuss, and record answers to the questions.
      • SWD: If partnerships are struggling to complete this task independently, you may decide to pull a small group or partnership for direct instruction or guided practice.

    Work Time

    Reread the poem silently.

    Work with a partner to record individual answers to the following questions.

    • In what sense is the maid ruined?
    • How has ‘Melia improved her life and circumstance?
    • What has the cost been to her?
    • What are the differences between town and country life in the poem?
    • What is ironic about the situation in the poem?

    Open Notebook

    Social Class and Law

    • Allow about 3 minutes for students to write.
    • If students are stuck, consider adding the following question:
      • ✓ In Pygmalion , what conclusions did the Flower Girl and others in the crowd come to when they thought the Note Taker was a policeman?
      • ELL: Consider providing sentence frames for this question to support students. For example:

    ✓ One thing the poem says about social class is…

    ✓ I think the poem relates toPygmalion because…


    Take 2 or 3 minutes to complete a Quick Write on the following question.

    • How does the poem “The Ruined Maid” relate to social class and law or to Pygmalion ?

    Open Notebook

    You will share your answers during the next lesson.

    Then and Now

    • Tell the class that you will be reading their paragraphs and responding to some of them.
    • Letting students know that you’ll be reading their paragraphs increases the likelihood that they will be appropriate for school. Giving students feedback on their paragraphs is extremely empowering. It sends the message that you are interested in the students’ ideas and want to be part of the conversation.
    • Remind students to continue reading their Independent Reading Group Novel and to turn in journal entries.


    In a short paragraph, agree or disagree with the following statement.

    • The situation described in Thomas Hardy’s poem “The Ruined Maid” applies only to 19th-century England. A modern poet could not write about the same situation occurring in today’s world.

    Open Notebook

    Submit and share your paragraph and respond to the paragraph of at least one classmate.

    Continue your ongoing homework assignment:

    • Read your Independent Reading Group Novel.
    • Remember to submit two journal entries a week to your teacher and publish some of your journal entries so others can read your work.