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Sister Maude Presentation

Sister Maude by Christina Georgina Rossetti
by

Annie Dalton

on 23 November 2012

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Transcript of Sister Maude Presentation

Sister Maude Christina Rossetti Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) was one of the most popular poets of the Victorian Era. She was a devote Christian resulting in her poems involving strong religious themes. Her poems often revolved around a theme of love and death. Due to her father being a leading figure in the Pre-Raphaelites, gothic and medieval themes were prevalent in her work. Who told my mother of my shame,
Who told my father of my dear?
Oh who but Maude, my sister Maude,
Who lurked to spy and peer.

Cold he lies, as cold as stone,
With his clotted curls about his face:
The comeliest corpse in all the world
And worthy of a queen's embrace.

You might have spared his soul, sister,
Have spared my soul, your own soul too:
Though I had not been born at all,
He'd never have looked at you.

My father may sleep in Paradise,
My mother at Heaven-gate:
But sister Maude shall get no sleep
Either early or late.

My father may wear a golden gown,
My mother a crown may win;
If my dear and I knocked at Heaven-gate
Perhaps they'd let us in:
But sister Maude, oh sister Maude,
Bide you with death and sin. page 62 of Moon on the Tides Poetry Anthology Title ‘Sister Maude’- the title initially shows to the readers that the woman is talking about her sister. The use of the name ‘Maude’ conveys the idea of death within the poem. As it has the same assonance as the Latin word ‘mort’ meaning death. The word ‘Sister’ is relative to religion, as in a nunnery the residents are known by the term ‘sister’. This idea of religion juxtaposes the theme of death and murder as these considered sins. Content Our initial interpretations Upon reading the poem, we initially determined that it was about a young woman describing the death of a lover.
This death aroused following a murderous act by her jealous sister.
The poem describes her resent over the incident and the betrayal of her sister. Other interpretations of the poem... She forgives her parents and says that they may go to Heaven when they died; even she and her lover might be allowed in but Maude would not be and is too wicked to be saved which presents that Maude was the murderer of her lover as an act of jealousy. A woman blames her sister for telling their parents about her secret love affair. The narrator was having a forbidden affair with a lover, which was highly disregarded in Victorian times. The lover is now dead (presumably killed on the orders of the woman's father).This is presented in the first stanzas by the use of a rhetorical question. The narrator was angry with Maude because she had been the person that told their parents of the matter and had ultimately been the cause of the lover’s death. The last line 'Bide you with death and sin' conveys the narrators anger towards her sisters betrayal. Voice and Tone The viewpoint of the poem is written by one sister to another sister. The voice is written to sound bitter and spiteful through phrases such as ‘he’d never have looked at you’. This shows that she looks down on Maude as the repetition of the word 'sister' emphasises the closeness of their relationship they had leading to the seriousness of the betrayal. The outrage and anger over the incident is reflected by the caesura (the break in the middle of a phrase marked by a comma) that is used in the line ‘oh who but Maude, my sister Maude’. This line emphasises allowing the reader to be absolutely certain of whom the blame lies upon. The emotive, negative language persuades the reader to turn against Maude and feel more sympathetic with the narrator for example in the second stanzas where the narrators feelings for her lover have been established to be very strong. This contrasts with her bitterness towards Maude as she describes her in the first stanzas. Themes and Issues Family Life A main theme is the betrayal of sisterhood; the narrator has been hurt by those closest to her. Her respect towards her parents is clear despite the interpretation that they could have insinuated the murder. Betrayal It is believed that Maude acted out of jealousy, regardless to their close relationship, she still betrayed her sister in favour of the lover in the story. Sexual Morality The woman refers to ‘shame’ which suggests she has proved immoral in the Victorian Era as a woman because she has allegedly had an affair or disapproved relationship with her lover. Love The narrator clearly demonstrates unconditional love towards the man as it continues after his death. Due to the hatred she feels for Maude, it is obvious that she loved him strongly. Forgiveness The idea of religious forgiveness is shown in the poem through the fact that the narrator, the lover and the parents will be allowed into heaven, whereas her sister will not. Her anger and hatred towards her sister have caused her unforgiving nature to be inevitable. Religion The idea of the ‘soul’ being spared introduces the idea of religion within the piece. This refers to the era of Christina Rossetti and her strong Christian faith. Heaven and sin are often referred to which also enhances of religion. Form/ Structure/ Language This poem is written in a conventional ballad stanza of rhyming quatrains. However, the final stanza has six lines as oppose to the common structure of four lines. Each stanza directly
addresses Maude. The initial stanza opens a rhetorical question; this intrigues the reader as they are compelled to discover the answer. The first stanza introduces the character of Maude and the parents. There is no detail of the parent’s character, although Maude is conveyed as being sly and sinister. The line ‘who lurked to spy and peer’ forebodes her evil characteristics, but she remains ambiguous. The second stanza introduces the idea of the lovers death, this is revealed through the line ‘cold he lies, as cold as stone’. The hard sound of ‘c’ is used frequently to demonstrate the anger of the narrator, this echoes her frustrated outburst. The poem is somewhat ambiguous, yet as the stanzas develop, the story unfolds as ideas are slowly introduced. The rhyming pattern of the first four stanzas in the poem is rhyming quatrains, verses of four lines, where rhyming occurs on the 2nd and 4th line. This is common in ballads as it provides a strong regular rhyme scheme. The ideas of Maude being evil are repeated throughout, influencing the impression of the narrator’s anger. In the first stanza ‘who’ is repeated to engage the reader through rhetorical questions, which draws the reader and makes them wait for the answer. Once the answer is provided we learn that Maude was the culprit, her name is then repeated which ensures the reader she was the definite perpetrator. The use of the term ‘clotted curls’ suggests the idea of murder because the imagery provides the reader with the idea his hair is saturated with blood and has later clotted in his hair. An oxymoron is used in the phrase ‘comeliest corpse’ that is in the second stanza that describes the death of her lover. The word ‘comeliest’ means attractive, which contrasts with the corpse as these are rarely considered pleasant sights. The oxymoron between beauty and death highlights her sense of loss. It also shows her unconditional love for her partner as regardless to his death she still finds him to be of great beauty. This idea is supported by the following line ‘and worthy of a queen’s embrace’. Alliteration of the letter ‘s’ is frequent in the third stanza. This is a sinister sound and when read aloud provides the poem with a harsh hissing. The repetition of the ‘s’ is a sibilant sound which conveys her hatred and spite toward her sister. The poem is directly addressed to one specific person, Maude, therefore similes and metaphors are infrequent. Line 5 uses the simile ‘as cold as stone’ which suggests and introduces the idea of death. Line 13 provides a metaphor ‘My father may sleep in Paradise’ this suggests to the reader that the father’s sins will be forgiven as he will be allowed to heaven. On the following line another metaphor is used referring to the ‘mother at heaven-gate’ which also conveys the idea of her being forgiven. These metaphors reflect the idea of religion within the piece. the structure of the stanzas alters on the final verse. There are 6 lines where the 2nd, 4th and 6th rhyme. In addition, there is an internal rhyme within the first and second line of the nouns ‘gown’ and ‘crown’. The emphasis of the word ‘you’ in the phrase ‘bide you with death and sin’ the idea of Maude being evil and sinister as well as showing the hatred the narrator has towards her sister. Types of Relationships Relationships are a focal point within this poem and there are several the narrator is involved in. •The woman is involved in a relationship with her lover that is disregarded by her parents; she refers to this as ‘my shame’ which shows that she should not be involved with her partner. However she maintains her love for the man and her fury over his death shows the unconditional love she has for him. •The sisterhood between the narrator and Maude is the main relationship described within the poem. The poem is addressed directly to Maude and therefore the reader learns from the harsh tone of the poem that the relationship is volatile and there is friction between the two. •The way the narrator views the parents also plays a large role within the poem. The narrator seemingly forgives them and views them as respectable people as they will be allowed to heaven after their death, however the woman cannot forgive Maude which shows the extent of her crime. Links to other poems Brothers Brothers is another poem that refers to a sibling relationship, however within this poem it shows that siblings have friendship as well as rivalry. Praise Song for my Mother The relationships between the characters within ‘Sister Maude’ are very close; this also shows a close relationship. Whereas in ‘Praise Song for my Mother’ the poem is positive and upbeat, in comparison to the sinister, evil tones that are found in ‘Sister Maude’. ACTIVITY in pairs... decide between yourselves who will be on the side of the narrator and who will be on the side of Maude... To begin with you will be debating your side of the story using references from the poem... After you have decided on your individual points within your pairs... The side of the narrator will unite on one side of the class and the side of Maude will unite on the other... All together you will have a debate to win over the judges and prove who is right... Its down to you.
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