Rossetti Cautionary Essays

Submitted By dhruvina
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Rossetti’s poems are cautionary tales designed to make their female readers live wisely and by society’s rules.’’ How far do you agree with this statement?

Christina Rossetti bases all her poems on a similar themes such as love, betrayal, relationships, society and power. This power is mainly seen by the male characters in her poems if not female, but eventually towards the end of the poem the females have been portrayed weak.
It could be argued that not all Rossetti’s poems are aimed to be cautionary tales to make the female readers live wisely and by society rules. In a few of her poems women are presented to be the stronger character, however towards the end they turn out to be weak. In Maude Clare Rossetti narrates the braveness of women by making Maude Clare interrupt Thomas and Nell's wedding day. She is Sir Thomas' ex-lover and intends to cause trouble for him and the woman he ended up choosing to marry. Maude Clare is regal and makes Nell look like a peasant in contrast. To quell the chaos, Sir Thomas’ mother tells her son that she and Thomas' father once found themselves in a similar predicament. She means to comfort Thomas with this information, but instead, Sir Thomas and Nell's faces become worryingly pale. It is obvious that the women characters hold the power in the poem. As we only hear a man speak once in the poem and he falters and looks weak. So the men are not seen to be important or to have any significant power. So Rossetti has switched the stereotype round so that the power is in the women's hands. It is also Nell and Maude Clare that are in conflict/discussion over everything, Thomas doesn't have any input. Eventually like in all poems Maude Clare is left alone therefore seen as a weak character.
Similarly in A Royal Princess Christina Rossetti shows the power in the female character as she stands up for what she believes in however she eventually has to sacrifice. Rossetti centres around the repulsion of a ‘king descended’ princess who albeit ‘sits uplift and upright’ upon a ‘high ivory chair’ ‘decked with jewels’ and encased in ‘ foreign spices’ discards her ‘lofty’ upbringing. The poem begins by directly challenging the assumption that riches and privilege entail happiness. For the princess, who has a huge sense of compassion, watching people suffer due to the rule of her father causes her pain. Whilst she is provided with all the riches she could ever want (maid-servants to look after her need, luxuries that come from all around the world), her longing for justice, along with her loneliness and isolation, make her unhappy.
If we explore the other perspective of the question, some of Christina Rossetti’s poems are seen as cautionary tales to women. In Jessie Cameron Rossetti shows the uncertain fate of women. The poem tells the story of two young people, Jessie Cameron and her spurned lover. Whilst they stand on a beach at dusk, he begs for her love and she continues to reject his pleas. Eventually the tide comes in and traps them. The second half of the poem is based on the suspicions and thoughts of neighbours as they account for their disappearance and suspected death at sea. The entire second half of Jessie Cameron is built upon on the hear-say and gossip of the neighbours. Following the use of the phrase ‘Some say' three times in the fifth stanza, the fate of Jessie and her lover is narrated through what the neighbours think they hear and what they think they see. Whilst ‘none will ever know' any details regarding the last conversations or movements of the lovers, the poem suggests that speculation will never cease, with people reflecting on what they may have heard or what they may have seen.
In addition Cousin Kate is made out by the female speaker to be very weak, as she was used and now is judged by society. The female speaker is presented weak for agreeing to marry the lord, despite the fact she presumably knew about what he did to the speaker. The speaker says "He lifted to from mean…