Stanza four

The final stanza opens with direct speech in the indignant exclamation That’s rich! They’d splutter.

The ex-lover’s lies are compared to fat and sizzling…sausages, which the women are munching on.

A women whispering a secret

Again Lochhead forces us to acknowledge that for some women there is real pleasure to be derived from sharing the details of a failed relationship, especially when caused through the betrayal of infidelity.

The behaviour of the women is not what we might expect. Rather than nurturing, sympathetic or supportive, it is almost triumphant.

As the feast ends, Lochhead begins to reach her conclusion. She describes how, sated, the women sink back/gorged on truth/and their own savage integrity.

The imagery here is almost reminiscent of sexual fulfilment as the discussion reaches its climax and the feeding frenzy is at last over.

The word choice of gorged really emphasises the gluttony of the women. It reinforces the negative aspects of friendships that seem to depend on misery and unhappiness for sustenance.

The phrase savage integrity exposes the hypocrisy of the women. Not only do they expect men to be unfaithful but they seem ready to use such betrayal to make themselves feel superior.

In the final lines then, the women are depicted as predators, scavengers, sleek and preening like corbies.

The reference to corbies, which are crows or ravens, likely alludes to an old Scottish poem called The Twa Corbies. In it two birds are overheard discussing in detail how they intend to pick over the carcass of a recently killed knight.

Lochhead exposes the toxic nature of some female relationships which celebrate the failure of men with such obvious delight and fervour.

These misandristic (men-hating) attitudes are not often alluded to in literature. In contrast, misogyny (the hatred or dislike of women), is much more prevalent.

While many female writers rightly address the inequalities that still exist between the sexes, the notion that women can be just as guilty of promoting or condoning contempt for men is less widely tackled or acknowledged. Lochhead then exposes this hypocritical double standard.