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Research on Rossetti

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Rossetti was born in London in 1830 into a remarkable family of artists, scholars, and writers. Her father was an exiled Italian revolutionary and poet and her brothers William and Dante Gabriel Rossetti were founding members of art movement the Pre-RaphaeliteBrotherhood. Christina had her own first book of poetry privately printed by her grandfather when she was 12 years old. At the age of 19, she contributed poems to Pre-Raphaelite journal The Germ, under the pseudonym Ellen Alleyn. Rossetti then died in 1894.

The women in her family were committed High Church Anglicans and as a teenager, Christina suffered a nervous breakdown that was diagnosed at the time as ‘religious mania’. Rossetti fell in love with several suitors but rejected them all because they failed to share her precise religious convictions. Rossettirejecting several men are portrayed in her poem “No Thank You, John” in 1859 and after reading it, one would find it impossible to forget the message of tactful rejection. In this poem, the speaker rejects the offering of love from the persistent John. Her work speaks to the idea of unrequited love. The speaker contends that she never told John that she loved him and that he knew she never loved him. As the poem progresses, Rossetti’s speaker moves from a simple refusal by incorporating a beautiful verse with tactfully rude remarks.

In 1862, at the age of 32, she published her first full collection, Goblin Market, and Other Poems. A sensuous fairy story, Goblin Market is a heady tale of repressed sexuality and sisterhood. There are two popular interpretations of “Goblin Market”: one reading is religious, and the other focuses on gender and sexuality. If the reader is more familiar with the religion, the reader will see the Christian allegory. However, if the reader is well versed in the study of gender and sexuality, then the symbolism will more readily relate to that topic. In the Christian interpretation, Laura represents Eve, the goblin men are the equivalent of Satan, their fruit is the temptation to sin, and Lizzie is a theChrist figure. Laura sins by going against the interdiction that she must not eat the goblins’ fruit, which is an homage to Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit in the Book of Genesis. The long list of the goblins’ fruit represents the wide variety of temptations that humans face during their lifetimes. like Adam and Eve, Laura discovers that the fruit does not bring fulfillment, but rather, death and destruction. The second interpretation of “GoblinMarket” is based on symbols of repressed sexual desire and sexual violence. Lizzie and Laura are both innocent and virginal at the beginning of the poem, but Laura’s curiosity proves to be stronger than her sister warning. Rossetti creates an uncomfortable struggle between the consequences of pursuing lust and the need to explore natural human desires. Language like“sucked” and “heaved,” Laura loses her youth and bloom (her virginity, essentially) as a result of taking the goblin men’s tempting fruit. InVictorian society, a woman’s deflowering marks her transition into adulthood as a wife and mother. However, because Laura is not married, the encounter strips her of her “maiden” status prematurely. Laura did not heed her sister’s warning, and now, just like Jeanie, she will suffer. Her concern with female fellowship was played out in real life as Rossetti devoted ten years as a volunteer at St Mary Magdalene’s penitentiary for prostitutes and unmarried mothers in Highgate.

Critical interest in Rossetti’s poetry swelled in the final decades of the twentieth century, a resurgence largely impelled by the emergence of feminist criticism; much of this commentary focuses on gender issues in her poetry and on Rossetti as a woman poet. In Maude Clare Rossetti uses the more spontaneous ABCB rhyme scheme to provide some relief from the strict regularity of the meter. As a result, the meter is awkward at times, paralleling the uncomfortable situation in which the characters are torn between expressing their true emotions and maintaining proper social behavior. Maude Clare’s aggressive tirade against Thomas and Nell begins with an attention-grabbing “lo,” and does not soften with her presentation of wedding gifts. She embodies the Victorian archetype of a scorned woman whose wrath cannot be assuaged. Maude Clare is almost monstrous in her anger, like a savage Juno, but yet, she is a victim of social conventions. This also reflects on how in temperament Rossetti was most like her brother Dante Gabriel. Christina was given to tantrums and fractious behavior,and she fought hard to subdue this passionate temper. There is a constant battle between restraint and free expression it’s a recurring theme throughoutRossetti’s poems as women were suppressed.

In Rossetti’slifetime opinion was divided over whether she or Elizabeth Barrett Browning was the greatest female poet of the era; in any case, after Browning’s death in1861 readers and critics saw Rossetti as the older poet’s rightful successor. Rossetti seems to focus more on spiritual topics than in poetic approach, Rossetti’spoetry being one of the intense feelings, her technique refined within the forms established in her time. Many people have acknowledged Rossetti as having the greater lyric gift, with her poetry displaying a perfection of diction, tone, and form under the guise of utter simplicity. Rossetti’s childhood was exceptionally happy, characterized by affectionate parental care and the creative companionship of older siblings. Rossetti expresses each factor of her life into each one of her poems.

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