In Christina Rossetti and the Poetry of Endurance (S. Illinois Press, 1986,) Rosenblum agrees with Arthur Waugh that Rossetti accepts the burden of womanhood and avoids a "falsetto muscularity." Rosenblum draws a comparsion with Barrett Browning and points out that Rossetti does not transend grief as Barrett Browning is able to. Rossetti did not feel her job to be recording injustice but providing an inner portrait of a poet who belongs nowhere. Rossetti presents an "internalized female passivity while remaining immune to social prestensions." Barrett Browning remained very much a part of her class and its social practices, while Rossetti stepped away from the barriers of class hierarchy to present a sense of the inner female experience.
The female poet's history during the pre-Raphaelite period consisted of sentimental poetry, the secular love lyric, and the devotional lyric. Rossetti appropriated and refined the secular literary tradition, where women were powerful symbols but not agents of power. The power of the female symbol found in Christian ideology enabled Rossetti to carry out a radical transformation that would empower the weak (pp. 60-61). In the scriptures lay the promises and myths of restoring the deprived self, making whole the fragmented self, and restoring the dispossed self. Rossetti transforms these traditional metaphors in her work.
Rosenblum disagrees with Jerome McGann's analysis of "Goblin Market" as a poem about dearth and sufficiancy and instead calls Rossetti an "active watcher" in her poetry. Rosenblum sees Rossetti as a woman who is limited to observations but still carries on a woman-centered growth from innocence to experience.
Last modified 1988