2.3.1 Woman

IN AN ARTIST’S STUDIO

One face looks out from all his canvases,
One selfsame figure sits or walks or leans:
We found her hidden just behind those screens,
That mirror gave back all her loveliness.
A queen in opal or in ruby dress,
A nameless girl in freshest summer-greens,
A saint, an angel — every canvas means
The same one meaning, neither more nor less.
He feeds upon her face by day and night,
And she with true kind eyes looks back on him,
Fair as the moon and joyful as the light:
Not wan with waiting, not with sorrow dim;
Not as she is, but was when hope shone bright;
Not as she is, but as she fills his dream.

This sonnet written by Christina Rossetti refers an artist who paints a woman ‘not as she is, but as she fills his dream’; so Christina is underlining the chasm between Pre-Raphaelite idealization and the actual woman involved. Her poetry offers a quiet but persistent critique of the Pre- Raphaelite treatment of female subjectivity. Many women artists contributed to the development of Pre-Raphaelitism, although their works were not always as publicly visible as those of the male artists: Rossetti’s wife Elizabeth Siddall; Joanna Boyce; Anna Mary Howitt; and others.

Being a woman was a problem in Victorian society and Christina enacted to feminism. Christina Rossetti’s poetry struggles against the notion of modesty, virtue and domesticity which constituted the duties of women in the Victorian Society. We can see these notions in the following poem:

SISTER MAUDE

Who told my mother of my shame,
Who told my fatlier of my dear?
Oh who but Maude, my sister Maude,
Who lurked to spy and peer.

Cold he lies, as cold as stone,
With his clotted curls about his face:
The comeliest corpse in all the world
And worthy of a queen’s embrace.

You might have spared his soul, sister,
Have spared my soul, your own soul too:
Though I had not been born at all,
He’d never have looked at you.

My father may sleep in Paradise,
My mother at Heaven-gate:
But sister Maude shall get no sleep
Either early or late.

My father may wear a golden gown,
My mother a crown may win;
If my dear and I knocked at Heaven-gate
Perhaps they’d let us in:
But sister Maude, oh sister Maude,
Bide you with death and sin.

Cristina Rossetti was nineteen years old when she wrote Maude: Prose and Verse in 1850. Clearly autobiographical, the novel examines the heroine’s endeavor to resist the notion that modesty, virtue and domesticity constitute the sole duties of womanhood.

For the precocious young poet, the work was only one of several projects of her teens. Growing up in London as the youngest child in a gifted and unusual family of artists and writers, Rossetti had early developed a poetic vocation. But by the time she wrote Maude, the lively, passionate, and adventurous little girl who had hated needlework, delighted in fiercely competitive games of chess, and explored the country with her brothers became a painfully constrained, sickly, and over-scrupulous teenager. Maude makes clear that at least some of Rossetti’s affliction came from anxieties about poetic achievement, her wishes both to be admired for her genius and to renounce it as unfeminine. Often overshadowed by her brother Dante Gabriel Rossetti, as you will see in the section of this paper called ‘sister’, Christina struggled to express her own independent authorial voice, and to resist a life bound by the constraints and demands of the traditional female role.



Leave a Reply


¡IMPORTANTE! Responde a la pregunta: ¿Cuál es el valor de 9 10 ?