Warming Her Pearls

Warming Her Pearls Literary Elements

Speaker or Narrator, and Point of View

A maid, likely in Victorian England

Form and Meter

This poem is split into six stanzas with four lines in each one.

Metaphors and Similes

I dust her shoulders with a rabbit's foot,
watch the soft blush seep through her skin
like an indolent sigh.

This simile, if read carelessly, could be taken literally, but the mistress does not sigh. The speaker immediately connects her blush to a lazy sigh. Her leap to that image shows her own bias, or desire to see her mistress aroused.

Alliteration and Assonance


"...My mistress
bids me wear them, warm them"


This poem employs a form of irony that feels closest to dramatic irony, the kind of irony that is understood by the audience but not the characters. Here, the reader has to reconcile the speaker's devotion with the impossibility of the relationship, something the speaker turns a blind eye to. The poem does not clarify whether the mistress returns her servant's feelings; in fact, she seems mostly concerned with preparing for the dance she will later attend, while her servant reads erotic meaning into every physical interaction. The speaker is also unfazed by the practice of wearing her mistress's pearls to warm them, which, to the modern reader, signals a huge disparity in class. The mistress, at least as she is portrayed in this poem, does not question why she has things her maid does not have; the maid is less than she is, unquestionably. This deepens the inherent divide that the poem depicts; since her mistress does not consider the speaker an equal, a romantic relationship between them would be impossible.




This poem occurs in a wealthy household in the Victorian era.


The tone is passionate yet subdued.

Protagonist and Antagonist

The protagonists are the maid and her mistress. There is no clear antagonist.

Major Conflict

The major conflict in this poem occurs between the speaker's hopes and her reality. She reads every moment of contact between herself and her mistress as sexual, but whether her mistress returns the feelings is unclear, and given the time period, it seems unlikely that a relationship could develop between them.


This poem does not include a typical climax, but the second-to-last stanza increases pressure on the speaker's infatuation for her mistress. Finally she exists in proximity to her mistress's body without the added tension of being her servant; however, the moment is imaginary, and the mistress could be anywhere. The build-up of the speaker's expectations is shadowed by the possibility that her mistress has no feelings for her whatsoever, a possibility to which the speaker seems oblivious.




Metonymy and Synecdoche