Themes and links to other poems

Thematically, this poem reveals the often uncomfortable rivalry that can exist between a mother and her son’s partner.

Lochhead draws the stereotypical, hectoring and domineering mother-in-law but instead of using it as a humorous device, she creates a presence that is altogether much more malevolent and threatening.

In doing so, she reminds us of some women who seem either unwilling or unable to let their sons go.

This poem then links well with Last Supper since it too paints an unflattering yet truthful portrayal of the nature of some female relationships.

Like Last Supper, which looks at how some friendships between women can be toxic and corrosive, so too My Rival’s House shows how the traditional mother and son relationship, often idealised in literature, can turn into something malignant and oppressive.

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