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Christina Rossetti


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Christina Rossetti

  1. 1. Christina Rossetti<br />1830-1894<br />
  2. 2. Biography<br />English poet<br />sister of Dante Gabriel Rossetti. <br />Born in London<br />she suffered ill-health in her youth<br />educated privately<br />already writing poetry in her teens.<br />Many of her poems were aimed at children. <br />She produced her first published verse under the pseudonym Ellen Alleyne.<br />engaged to a painter, James Collinson<br />broken off because of religious differences<br />she was High Church Anglican.  <br />Tended to be a bit solitary<br />1874 Illness left her an invalid<br />rejected the social world of her brother's "Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood“<br />
  3. 3. Themes:<br />renunciation and self-denial vs. lush visions of plenitude and desire. <br />Mixture of religious and sensual imagery<br />In Rossetti’s poetry, feminine yearning is often the result of failed male-female relationships. <br />Women are betrayed, silenced, or objectified by men:<br />ie: the “nameless girl” of “In an Artist’s Studio,” who is painted “Not as she is, but as she fills [the male artist’s] dream” (line 14). <br />critical appraisal of Victorian gender relations. <br />
  4. 4. Goblin Market<br />combination of fairytale motif and sensual imagery puzzling<br />What do the “Goblin-men” represent?<br />cautionary tale against unruly female appetites?<br />religious allegory of sin and redemption?<br />the struggle between temptation <br />ideal Victorian “angel,” female (hetero)sexuality, <br />homoerotic imagery <br />What is the role of Jeanie, the “fallen” woman who dies as a result of her submission to the goblin men? <br />
  5. 5. Goblin Market - continued<br />traditional attitudes toward women in the nineteenth century. <br />Lizzie supports middle-class Victorian views of ideal women:<br /> self-sacrificing <br />nurturing<br />On the other hand, Lizzie’s heroic actions blur traditional boundaries between private and public spheres:<br />she moves freely between the spaces of home and marketplace<br />examine the “epic” conflict between the goblin men and the two sisters; <br />the violent action of the men:<br />(their “claw[ing]” [line 401] and “[s]tamp[ing]” [line 405] result in Lizzie’s “bruises” [line 467]) <br />
  6. 6. Goblin Market- continued<br />It is striking, moreover, that the conflict between men and women takes place within an economic framework. <br />poem’s suggestive economic language:<br />Equates sexual exchange with mercantile exchange:<br />action revolves around buying and selling fruits in “goblin market,” <br />Laura’s “golden lock” (line 126) is paralleled with “coin” (line 116). <br />In nineteenth-century slang, a “goblin” = a gold <br />so the goblin men could actually be equated with money<br /> How is the poem is critical of conventional gender relations and of domestic ideology?<br />
  7. 7. In an Artist’s Studio<br />Elizabeth “Lizzie” Siddal, <br />the model in the sonnet <br />later Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s wife. <br />The model remains “hidden just behind those screens” (line 3)—that is, behind the canvases, <br />“mirror” the desire of the painter <br />concealing the real woman’s complex desires, disappointments, and aspirations. <br />The artist depicts his model in all the conventional forms of femininity:<br /> “A saint, an angel”<br /> But the painter shows her “Not as she is, but as she fills his dream” (line 14).<br />This poem speaks to the treatment of women as “aesthetic objects”.<br />
  8. 8. Trivia:<br />Christina herself was painted as the Virgin Mary by her brother in the painting Ecce AncillaDomini [“The Annunciation”]<br />
  9. 9. Trivia<br />While posing for Millais' Ophelia (1852), Siddal had floated in a bathtub full of water to model the drowning Ophelia. <br />Millaispainted daily into the winter with Siddal modeling. He put lamps under the tub to warm the water. <br />On one occasion the lamps went out and the water slowly became icy cold. Millais was absorbed by his painting and did not notice. <br />Siddaldid not complain. After this session she became very sick with a severe cold or pneumonia.<br />
  10. 10. Trivia - continued<br />After Rossetti buried the book of his poems with his dead wife, several of his friends engaged in a moonlit act of grave robbing to retrieve them. <br />One of the men in attendance was a friend of a then obscure Irish writer named Bram Stoker. <br />The account of Lizzie's exhumation became the basis for the scene of the vampire Lucy Westenra's destruction in Dracula! <br />