‘How does Rossetti tell the story in Cousin Kate’
In Cousin Kate the poet presents the reader with the idea that women have many expectations in life and are governed by men, giving them no real freedom, and that to become truly happy one must break away from social expectations. Personally I believe this poem presents Rossetti with a stage where she can speak of her resentment at the power men have and the weaknesses and few liberties that women have in the Victorian period; as in the end she takes sympathy for Cousin Kate who appears to have everything, because she must live under the order of her husband. Rossetti chooses a first person narrative in this poem so the narrator can addresses her questions, laments and moans to Kate. She begins the third verse, ‘O Lady Kate, my cousin Kate’ and the fifth, ‘O cousin Kate’. Throughout, she employs a tone of accusation, repeatedly using the word ‘you’ as she compares Kate to herself. In the last four lines, the speaker draws her attention away from her bitterness at Kate and addresses her son. She calls him ‘my shame, my pride’ (line 45). By using this narrative perspective and thus allowing the narrator to express her anger followed by sympathy to cousin Kate we are immediately taken into the world of the storyteller and feel sympathy for both the women which is what I believe Rossetti intended. Furthermore, due to the structure of the poem we are taken through an emotion journey with the speaker, where we are told about her history what happened to her which explains her initial anger at cousin Kate, then anger at her own former naivety and sympathy for Kate. The narrator’s questions in the first stanza express her anger and confusion at the experiences she has had to endure: ‘Why did a great lord find me out, and praise my flaxen hair? Why did a great lord find me out, and fill my heart with care?’ (lines 5-8). She suggests that before the arrival of the ‘great lord’, she was happy and ‘contented’ (line 3). She...
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