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Maude Clare by Christian Rosetti

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Introduction

'Maude Clare' by Christiana Rosetti Oliver Latham K5CWB How does Rosetti portray Maude Clare in the shorter, 1862 version? Can the reader empathize with her situation? What purpose does the narrator serve? What might the natural world stand for in Rosetti's poem? In 'Maude Clare' Rosetti portrays a vindictive and venomous Clare: 'Here's my half of a golden chain...' Clearly Claire is bitter about her 'lords' new marriage and wants him to know this. Nevertheless it is clear that her 'lord' still has feelings for his mistress since he '(gazes) long' on her in line fifteen of the poem. By drawing on three different points of view, varying in prominence, Rosetti is able to recreate a valuable insight into Victorian conventions. She adopts a largely female dominated narrative perspective in her poem but the identification of the narrator is somewhat ambiguous allowing the reader freedom to speculate and draw their own conclusions. 'The Angel in the House', a poem by Coventry Patmore, published in 1854 idealizes women role in society (p3 The Changing Role of Women): Man must be pleased; but him to please is women's pleasure. ...read more.

Middle

In following Victorian patriarchal conventions the 'lord' should have power over his wife/mistress but in the overturned reality conjured up by Rosetti this position is pushed aside by dominant women such as Clare. Nell seems weak and has less to say at the beginning of the poem. Instead of stealing the focus of the wedding day, as would be expected Nell instead forfeits this attention to Maude Clare. Our first meeting of Nell seems to support this: 'His bride was like a village maid, Maude Clare was like a queen.' However in the final two stanzas she starts to challenge Clare's point of view which, up to this point had been unopposed. This is plausible since, as Nell is bound to 'her lord' by wedlock, Victorian society dictates he is obliged to support her and any children she might have with him. She claims she'll 'take' what was Clare's and 'wear it 'til he loves (her) best'. It is clear that Rosetti wishes her audience to sympathize with the seemingly innocent Nell. There is an air of secrecy in the poem surrounding Clare's background, as if Rosetti does not feel Clare deserves any audience recognition beyond her revenge stricken 'fa�ade'. ...read more.

Conclusion

However the alliteration of 'budding bough' helps to show the deep connection between the couple. 'Bough' is an interesting choice of word since it supports the 'bud' in nature like the husband is supposed to support his wife under Victorian ideas about the household. The 'buds' themselves are images of new beginnings and this could be Clare telling her lover the affair is over. In conclusion Clare and Nell could, to Rosetti represent prominent female figures in Victorian society. For instance, Maude Clare, Florence Nightingale who was herself alienated and shunned by the 'Angel in the House' concept deeming it 'intolerable' (p.5 The Changing Role of Women). Nell, Mrs. Beeton who provided a practical and positive approach to the housewife image of Patmore's poem but was far from the image of 'tender' women adopted by Ruskin. Rosetti does in some ways support traditionalist views of women in her time, portraying the simple, domesticated Nell as her protagonist and modeling the headstrong Clare as immoral and stripping from her any personality beyond that illustrated in the poem. However it seems to me that Rosetti disagrees with the idea that women needed protecting from society's evils since the female characters presented seem anything but weak. ...read more.

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