Critical Appriciation to Christina Rossetti’s Maude Clare

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The poem Maude Clare, written in the Victorian era, has a simple language structure but complex interpretations. The use of traditional ballad structure and tragic theme of love suggests a pre-Raphaelite influence. The poem tells the story of Maude Clare, an ex-lover who shows up on Sir Thomas’ wedding day to his new bride Nell. The narrator, likely a female due to the use of my lord,” highlights the societal expectations of women in the Victorian era as objects and property of men. Maude Clare’s outspoken and sarcastic behavior deviates from this portrayal, as she speaks her mind on holy grounds and offers to give back Sir Thomas his virginity. The poem emphasizes the differences between Maude Clare and Nell, foreshadowing their comparisons throughout the poem.”

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Maude Clare is a poem with simple language yet multiple complex interpretations. Its inclusion of mysterious narrators adds to its intrigue. The use of language in the poem reflects the time period it was written, featuring a traditional ballad structure reminiscent of Victorian era poetry. Additionally, the theme of tragic love aligns with the pre-Raphaelite age. One possible interpretation suggests that the poem portrays an ex-lover appearing on her former partner’s wedding day, as indicated by the line “Out of the church she followed them.” This perspective comes from a third character, implying that the narrator observes these events.

Maude Clare makes an unexpected appearance at Sir Thomas’ wedding celebration, surprising his new wife Nell. The poet contrasts the two women by describing Nell as a humble village girl, while Maude Clare is compared to a regal queen. This initial comparison highlights the stark differences between the two characters and sets the stage for further comparisons in the poem.

The phrase “my Lord” not only indicates the Victorian era but also implies that the narrator is female. In that time, it was unusual for a man to address another man like this unless the latter held a high social position. In Victorian society, women were expected to be seen but not heard and were treated as objects and possessions of men. Jane Eyre once stated that women were meant to give and love, making them seen as mere entities capable only of expressing love through sex and fulfilling their responsibilities by cleaning and serving their husbands.

Maude Clare deviates from the traditional depiction of Victorian women by being outspoken and expressing her views on sacred grounds, which was unconventional in the 1800s. Her speech is filled with bitterness and sarcasm. By mentioning “…to bless the marriage bed,” she openly talks about sexual relationships. One could interpret her metaphorical offer of returning Sir Thomas his virginity, which she has taken, adding an ironic and rebellious twist since it is usually the man who claims a woman’s virginity.

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Critical Appriciation to Christina Rossetti’s Maude Clare. (2017, Mar 07). Retrieved from

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