Critical Appreciation- Christina Rossetti ‘Maude Clare’
Maude Clare is a poem with simple language, yet many complex interpretations; and mysterious narrators. The language suggests the time period in which the poem was written, and the traditional ballad structure connotes the Victorian era of poetry, as well as the tragic theme of love implying the pre Raphaelite age. The poem could be interpreted in the literal sense; an ex-lover showing up on her once- partners wedding day: “Out of the church she followed them” this is narrated from a third character; imposing the narrator is an onlooker. Maude Clare, being the ex-lover, turns up on Sir Thomas’ wedding celebration, to his new bride Nell who is quickly compared with Maude Clare: “His bride was like a village maid/ Maude Clare was like a queen” this early juxtaposition of the two conflicting characters emphasises and dramatizes the differences between the two and foreshadows their comparisons through-out the poem. The use of: “my Lord” not only highlights the Victorian era, but to me, indicates that the gender of the narrator is female; a male in the Victorian era would not address another man in this manner, unless he was of a very high status. Females were expected to be seen and not heard in society, and were simply objects and property of men, Jane Eyre once wrote (about women): “ She was born to give and to love.” A woman was seen as an entity and only able to offer her services of love- in the form of sex, and giving- cleaning and serving her husband. Maude Clare strays from this portrayal of the classic Victorian woman as she is very outspoken, and speaks her mind on holy grounds, which also would be seen as unconventional for the 1800’s. She is bitter in her speech, and sarcastic: “…to bless the marriage bed” she is speaking out about sexual relationships, and it could be interpreted that she is metaphorically offering sir Thomas his virginity back, that she has taken, this in itself is ironic, and...
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