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Christina Rossetti “Aesthetics of Renunciation”. Biographical Overview Grew up in a family of Italian exiles Poor health and financial trouble in adolescence.

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Presentation on theme: "Christina Rossetti “Aesthetics of Renunciation”. Biographical Overview Grew up in a family of Italian exiles Poor health and financial trouble in adolescence."— Presentation transcript:

1 Christina Rossetti “Aesthetics of Renunciation”

2 Biographical Overview Grew up in a family of Italian exiles Poor health and financial trouble in adolescence made her turn to Anglo-Catholic movement

3 Biographical Overview Followed strict religious principles of self-denial Refused marriage proposals on religious grounds Performed volunteer service at penitentiary for fallen women

4 Biographical Overview Brother—Dante Gabriel Rossetti, founder of PreRaphaelite movement in art and poetry –Emphasized sensuous feminine beauty –Sympathetic depiction of fallen women

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8 Central Features of Art Themes of temptation, sin, and redemption “Combination of sensuousness and religious severity” (Norton Intro)

9 “The Blessed Damozel” by D. G. Rossetti, example of “The Fleshy School of Poetry”

10 Central Features of Art Self-denial and deferral— “An aesthetics of renunciation” Situation of women in Victorian society –Angel in the House –Fallen Woman

11 “Goblin Market” p. 1589

12 Female Stereotypes Lizzie—“Angel in the House” –“Placid,” “content,” “like a royal virgin town” –Resists temptation –Content with domestic duties Laura—“Fallen Woman” –“Like a leaping flame,” a “restless brook,” a “vessel at launch when its last restraint is gone” –Succumbs to temptation –“Sick” of domestic duties

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14 Symbols Forbidden Fruit –Forbidden experience (lines 40-45) –Illicit sexuality—erotic imagery, punishment typical of fallen women (lines ) Goblin Men –Temptation of “evil gifts” (line 66) –Men who sexually seduce and abandon women

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16 Symbols Laura’s golden curl –Symbol of femininity, female sexuality –Item of sale—woman selling herself on sexual “market”

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18 Symbols Lizzie as Christ figure –Deliberately enters the realm of evil (the glen) –Passively endures attack –Sacrifices herself for her sister’s redemption (lines )

19 Symbols Lizzie as “female hero” –Imagery of attack is suggestive of rape –Heroism depicted in erotic terms (lines , , ) –Tension between spirituality and sensuality

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21 Sensual Imagery vs. Message of Self-Denial Reinforces Victorian domestic ideal –Lizzie’s heroism is based in self- denial –Lizzie and Laura become wives and mothers (lines )

22 Sensual Imagery vs. Message of Self-Denial Critiques Victorian domestic ideal –Laura is redeemed –Laura’s longing is sympathetically portrayed –Erotic imagery suggests intense desire and dissatisfaction with self-denial

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24 Lesbian Subtext Erotic imagery of the sisters’ relationship, message of female solidarity No biographical evidence that Rossetti was lesbian Subconscious expression of lesbian desire?

25 Lesbian Subtext Repressed sexuality of Victorian culture emerging in “safe” imagery of sisterly affection Expresses longing and deprivation that accompany the Victorian domestic ideal

26 “Goblin Market,” the Musical You are listening to the 1985 stage musical, “Goblin Market,” by Polly Pen and Peggy Harmon The musical implies Rossetti’s Lizzie and Laura are two sides of the feminine consciousness –Desire to fulfill conventional female role of self-denial (Lizzie) –Desire to venture beyond domestic role for self-fulfillment


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