[In the following passage from the section of her book entitled "Hand to Hand: Making, Writing and Making Right" Hanson places William Morris's uses of violence in relation to his use of "hand" and "handwork." — George P. Landow].
s Barbara T. Gates points out, while nineteenth-century journalists and the writers of popular novels distanced contemporary suicide by sensationalizing it, poets from Arnold and Tennyson to Meredith and Browning grappled with issues of will, courage and health through depictions of ancient suicide." Morris joins this chorus of male poets, yet he resists a single representation of suicide as evidence of valour and manliness, as is common in Victorian representations of Viking death, or of female weakness, as is common in contemporary sensational reports." Instead, the female suicides of the poem represent the merging of the individual and the communal. Through acts of will, the women of the poem sacrifice themselves to the tale of the people and are integrated into a history of manliness. 
Hanson, Ingrid. William Morris and the Uses of Violence, 1856-1890. London: Anthem Press, 2013. [Review in the Victorian Web]
Last modified 26 May 2010