Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti in Historical Context Victorian Era: Victorian Britain, 1837 – 1901 Christina Rossetti * Christina Georgina Rossetti (5 December 1830 – 29 December 1894) was an English poet who wrote a variety of romantic, devotional, and children’s poems * Family: Born in London to Gabriele Rossetti, a poet and a political exile from Vasto, Abruzzo, and Frances Polidori, the sister of Lord Byron’s friend and physician, John William Polidori.
She had two brothers and a sister: Dante became an influential artist and poet, and William and Maria both became writers. Christina, the youngest, was a lively child. She dictated her first story to her mother before she had learned to write. Women in the Victorian Era * Women did not have suffrage rights, the right to sue, or the right to own property. * By the Victorian era, the concept of “pater familias”, meaning the husband as head of the household and moral leader of his family, was firmly entrenched in British culture.
A wife’s proper role was to love, honour and obey her husband, as her marriage vows stated. * Wife’s duties to tend to her husband and properly raise her children were considered crucial cornerstones of social stability by the Victorians. Women seen as falling short of society’s expectations were believed to be deserving of harsh criticism. * The Angel in The House – 1854 * The ideal Victorian woman was pure, chaste, refined, and modest. * Law: * 1857: violence recognized as grounds for divorce * 1870: women could keep money they earned 1878: entitlement to spousal and child support recognized * Women were expected to have sex with only one man, their husband. However, it was acceptable for men to have multiple partners in their life. If women did have sexual contact with another man, they were seen as ruined or fallen. Religion * Victorian England was a deeply religious country. A great number of people were habitual church-goers, at least once and probably twice, every Sunday. The Bible was frequently and widely read by people of every class; so too were religious stories and allegories.
Yet towards the end of Queen Victoria’s reign, the hold of organized religion upon the English people began to slacken for several reasons. Who were the Pre-Raphaelites? * The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (also known as the Pre-Raphaelites) was a group of English painters, poets, and critics, founded in 1848. * William Michael Rossetti (Christina Rossetti’s brother) was part of the second wave of people to join * The group’s intention was to reform art by rejecting what they considered to be the mechanistic approach first adopted by the Mannerist artists who succeeded Raphael and Michelangelo.