‘Cousin Kate’ and ‘The Seduction’

As part of my year 10 coursework for English I have been asked to read love poems and look at the similarities and the differences between the two poems, Cousin Kate and The Seduction. One of the writers of the poems Christina Rossetti was very famous for her poems and the role as an early feminist she was born on 5th December 1830 and died on 29th December 1894 at the age of 64. Her poems were famous for the way she spoke about unrequited love to earthly love she was a devout (seriously religious) member of the Church of England who never married.

Her feminist desires caused her a life long struggle by constantly attempting to reconcile her own often-conflicting ideals towards religion, ambition and the Victorian womanhood. Rossettis view to being a nun of art. Has also influenced the way in which her poetry has been made. Because Rossetti never married, the central themes of her poetry were considered to be renunciation and sexual frustration and the hope for a better life after death. My first impressions of the poems were that I realized that they are not stereotypical love poems they have pessimistic and optimistic endings.

Pessimistic ending was ‘The Seduction’ as there was no hope but in ‘Cousin Kate’ there was hope, an optimistic ending. The differences in the poems are numerous involving narrative, female characters, male characters, settings and seductions showing disillusionment. The settings of the poems are different because in ‘The Seduction’ its set in an urban (built up) area with lots of buildings and skyscrapers around we can tell this by. ” Far past the silver stream of traffic through the city, far from the blind windows of the tower blocks. ”

This is also due to ‘The Seduction’ being set in the 1980s compared to Cousin Kate, which is set in the 1800s. ‘Cousin Kate’ is set in a rural (countryside) area this is shown by. “I was a cottage maiden” Other differences involve the male and females the males in the poems were of different class. In ‘Cousin Kate’ the man was very upper class and a lord whereas the man in ‘The Seduction’ was working class. “He spat in the river, fumbled in a bag”. As for the females in both of the poems they are very different in many ways, as the female in ‘Cousin Kate’ was mature than the female in ‘The Seduction’ we can tell this because.

When the female in ‘Cousin Kate’ found out she was pregnant she takes it more easily than the female in ‘The Seduction’. Because the female in ‘The Seduction’ just wants to smoke drugs. But, then again, better to be smoking scented drugs. The seductions in the two poems were the two key factors with the characters unrequited love. In ‘Cousin Kate’ the cottage maiden felt that she was truly in love with the lord. “O Cousin Kate my love was true”. But in ‘The Seduction’ she was under the influence of large amounts of vodka whilst making love to a man she had only just met for a few hours.

She was living in a drunken fantasy thinking that she was loved. There were also numerous similarities between the two poems. The age of the two feminine characters seemed to be very young specifically a teenager in ‘The Seduction’. Both of the narratives (plot) in the poems were about unrequited love and teenage pregnancy outside of wedlock. And the shame and stigma that some communities put on young women who fall pregnant. Also the figurative language used to make the emotion feel real by using an amount of metaphorical language and similes.

Also the fact that both of the females were very young they were very nai?? e and charmed very easily. The main contrast in the poems is the language used. ‘The Seduction’ was written in the 1980s and it contains many words and phrases that would not have been used in the late 1800s when ‘Cousin Kate’ was written. For example: a lady in the 1800s would not have drunk ‘vodka’ or wore ‘high white shoes’. The men in that era would not have called a lady a ‘little slag’ as gentlemen of that time would formal English and never use slang. And examples relating to the poems like tower blocks, slag and traffic being modern language compared to ‘Cousin Kate’ language like flaxen, mean estate and writ.

The figurative language in both poems is very similar despite there being a very large amount of time between when each poem was written. There is a lot of metaphorical language equally used in both poems. In ‘Cousin Kate’ Christina Rossetti used metaphors there is one particular phrase, which says the cottage maiden. “Might have been a dove” When I read this quote it brought a lot of imagery to my head it does this to many other readers who have read the poem as its figurative language showing imagery for example. When I read this I can imagine what it means in my head, the image I interpret is that white symbolizes innocence and virginity.

So she might have been an innocent virgin. ‘Cousin Kate’ is written is autobiographical style using first person compared to ‘The Seduction’ which is written in the third person. This has a big effect on the reader as you can imagine the way the character is feeling in many different aspects and the emotion and the way they feel to disillusionment. It’s also good for spotting figurative language within the context of both poems. And also as if she is writing to her friend or cousin. Many things in the poems drew my attention to them many lines that had figurative language (metaphors) in them.

The quote I have chosen for ‘The Seduction’ is. Now, with a softly rounded belly, she was sickened every morning. This quote shows that the female in ‘The Seduction’ is pregnant she has a round belly and is suffering like a percentage of women do from morning sickness. And she has a round belly but I also feel a bit of regret from the female’s point of view as she says ‘now’ as if the baby wasn’t planned which is true. The quote I have chosen for ‘Cousin Kate’ is. “Why did a great lord find me out to fill my heart with care”.

This quote shows to me that she wish she never fell in love with the lord she shows a great deal of regret just like ‘The Seduction’ but the female in ‘Cousin Kate’ is glad she is having a baby. As part of the numerous differences one of them include the structure the writer of ‘The Seduction’ was really clever as she split the poem in to two parts. The seduction of the female and then the aftermath of the bleak self-hatred seduction. ‘The Seduction’ consists of 16 stanzas each stanza has four lines the rhyming pattern is a b c b. ‘Cousin Kate’ has four stanzas with 8 lines in each stanza the rhyming pattern is a b c b d b c b.

The two poems are similar as the basic outline has the same themes and structure. The poems both contain different aspects of deceit. The emotions of self hatred, disillusionment and unrequited love felt by both women are similar. As both women are practically going through the same things just a hundred years different between there creation. Apart form in ‘Cousin Kate’ as towards the end there is some hope, as she wants to have the baby and take good care of it. There is also social stigma on the minds of the women especially in ‘The Seduction’.

Better to starve yourself, like a sick, precocious child than to walk through town with a belly huge and ripe”. Towards the end of the poems as mentioned earlier there is some hope for the women in ‘Cousin Kate’ but in ‘The Seduction’ there is no hope what so ever. The young women falls apart becomes weak she feels as if there is no hope for her she is facing a pessimistic ending. “Better to destroy your life in modern, man-made ways than to fall into this despicable, feminine void”. But on the other hand by reading into the subtext in ‘Cousin Kate’ we get the feeling there is an early feminist.

This relates to the writer Christina Rossetti as she was seen as being an early feminist in her days. The women in ‘Cousin Kate’ is also really feisty a survivor. “I would have spit into his face and not have taken his land”. Masculine and feminine roles played a big part in both poems because men and women were seen in different ways when ‘Cousin Kate’ was written women were seen as people who would stay at home. While at home washing dishes and clothes, while men went to work and made money. This changed in ‘The Seduction’ as ‘The Seduction’ is more modern as men and women were seen in different ways again.

More equal opportunities were offered to both sexes men became more involved in household work and women became more involved in making money to support the family. The differences between the males in which the way they seduce the females is a lot as one seduction was done a modern way using alcohol. The other the more traditional and the way it should be done the female falling in love but the man getting what he wanted then leaving the women. The subject today towards teenage pregnancy still is quite unimaginable in some people’s mind some family’s would neglect the mother of the fetus.

But many are coming to terms with it and are treating the teenagers who are pregnant like other pregnant women. In some ways there is still a stigma connected to teenage pregnancy but not as much as there used to be in the 19th century. But it’s even worse in some ways if the teenager it still single and they become pregnant by a one-night stand many blame them for their stupid mistake. I preferred ‘The Seduction’ rather than ‘Cousin Kate’ because it is more modern and understandable to today’s life. It describes teenager’s actions as it is in today’s life going out till late with mates, drinking alcohol and smoking drugs.

I disliked ‘Cousin Kate’ because I didn’t really understand what the feminist was going through I couldn’t relate anything from what I do to the feminist unlike ‘The Seduction’. Christina Rossetti lived a great life but there was something missing in her life she longed to be a mother. It seemed from many other writings from Christina Rossetti that she was infertile and couldn’t conceive so she had inspiration from her own life to write her own poems and probably made her poems very realistic and sensuous.