Pre 1914 and Post 1914 Poetry Comparison
Listed Author: Christina Rossetti
Analyse “Cousin Kate” by Christina Rossetti and “The Seduction” by Eileen McAuley. Compare and contrast the way in which the both poems deal with the theme of love and relationships, and shows how characters are presented in both of the poems. Refer closely to language, content, theme, mood and characters to develop your answer.
The two poems which I am going to analyse are; “Cousin Kate” by Christina Rossetti and “The Seduction” by Eileen McAuley. “Cousin Kate” was written in Victorian times and it describes a cottage maiden that falls in love with a rich and powerful Lord, but is later rejected by the Lord for her cousin. “The Seduction” was written in the 20th Century and describes a young girl that is lured by a man, and later falls pregnant after a one night stand. The poem “Cousin Kate” firstly is a narrative poem which means that a person is telling the story. I know this because ‘I’ and ‘me’ is used throughout it. Also, the poems’ name is slightly strange as it is named after the cousin in the story as opposed to the maiden who is actually telling the story. The poem itself has many themes running throughout it. The themes to me are used to portray some powerful meanings. I think that the main themes are status, love, relationships and misery. The poem ‘Cousin Kate’ was written in Victorian times, a time in which status was very important to people. There is a lot of contrast in the poem between the two women and the lord. The lord was of upper class whereas the two of them were of lower class. Even though the maiden was of lower class she was ‘contented’. She has many ‘cottage mates’ and was quite happy with how life was until the lord came along and disturbed things. She asks rhetorical questions as to why he had to ‘find her out’ and ‘praise her flaxen hair’. She was so happy, worry free until this ‘great lord’ began giving her compliments. She speaks of ‘he lured’ her to his ‘palace home’. The word ‘lured’ suggests that she didn’t want to go but was in fact coaxed to go with him. It also suggests that he had a type of charm about him. He used his charm to his advantage to ‘woe’ her. He seemed to do this quite effortlessly. It was as if he had a type of power over her. This could be due to the fact that he is of higher society than her. After wooing her he didn’t want to know her however. He used her and then got rid of her. He treated her as his ‘plaything’ and then just tossed her aside. He ‘changed’ her as if she was ‘a glove.’ He betrayed her and now she feels upset and abandoned. She is now an ‘unclean thing’. She feels dirty and used whereas if she had not met the lord and lived out her happy and ‘contented’ life like she wanted she would be pure and full of love like a ‘dove’. The lord then uses his charm to seduce another woman; ‘Cousin Kate’. The word ‘cousin’ is used her to suggest maybe a family relation between the two but I think that it is used to show the status of the two. The two women were of equal class. They were both ordinary workers, it was just that Kate was more beautiful, ‘more fair’ than the narrator and because of this the lord ‘saw’ Kate, ‘chose’ her and ‘cast’ the narrator by. These three verbs are used to show how he enforced the power that the Lord had, not only as a lord, but also as a man. He chose to lift Kate from ‘mean estate’ so she could ‘sit with him on high’ I think that here the narrator may be a little jealous as Kate is no longer apart of the low, social condition that she is, but is now more superior and has a God-like status to her. She is no longer ‘Cousin Kate’ of working society, but is ‘Lady Kate’ of upper class. However, the fact that the title is ‘Cousin Kate’ as apposed to ‘Lady Kate’ suggest that even though she moved up in society, to her she will always be ‘Cousin Kate’, an average worker like herself. She believes that he only wanted her for...