A2 Comparison Grid

By no means finished, but I’ve made a good start. With any luck this should be done by the end of the week and I will write a post advising how to tackle comparison questions in the exam.

Title Themes Summary Link to…
1. An Apple Gathering This is about Rossetti’s conception of female fulfillment as being based about marriage and motherhood. We see her flirting with the idea of filling her apple basket when she is young and then not returning until the tree is empty; this symbolises her own sense of regret that she has not experienced earthly fulfillment.
2. At Home A poem about exploring one’s worth through death. It is melancholy as the poetic voice acknowledges that her ‘friends’ will forget her in death and move on with their lives, not thinking about her as she is of ‘yesterday’. Not only this, but they seem to be having a party of celebration, while she is forgotten and alone – she does not resent them, but feels miserable for herself.
3. A Better Resurrection Rossetti highlights the emptiness, absence of emotion and solitude of her earthly life before recognising the role of Christ in giving her existence meaning. She paints a very bleak picture of existence before finding religion and being reformed as a servant of God.
4. Cousin Kate A traditional ballad that explores feelings of jealous and resentment from a fallen woman. The tale is of a girl who has been seduced by a lord and had a sexual relationship, who is then abandoned and replaced with a younger model (Cousin Kate) who is chaste and thus forces the lord to marry her before he can bed her. The poem thus has a warning to women, but is also fairly damning of men and the double standards.
5. A Christmas Carol
6. Cobwebs The poem is set in a land without extremes and one that seems all the worse for it. This emotionless and empty land could be seen to represent Rossetti’s life on earth once she has made the decision to follow Christ rather than to live a fulfilling life as a mother or wife. She is clearly struggling with this and seems torn, with a desire to actually experience fulfillment on earth. The title could refer to being left behind or being dusty and forgotten by the world.
7. The Convent Threshold
8. Despised and Rejected
9. Echo This is a really sad poem about feelings of loss and nostalgia. She pleads for memories of a past love that is now too distant and fading as an echo. It seems that this love or figure that she longs for is out of her reach based on her decision – so this is self-denial preventing her from experiencing the longed for feelings again.
10. Goblin Market
11. Good Friday
12. The Lowest Place This is a short little devotional poem where Rossetti pleads with God for a place in heaven. However, it is a deferential poem that elevates the magnificence of heaven and God by suggesting she is barely worthy of joining.
13. Maude Clare
14. Monna Innominata
15. My Dream Positioned as a dream that the poetic voice cannot make any sense of, this poem deals with the struggle between the social/religious expectation of women to be sexless (outside of the proper forms) and temptation and desire. There is a suggestion this could be about a fallen woman recognising their sin when giving into temptation and desire outside of wedlock.
16. Promises Like Piecrust
17. Remember
18. A Royal Princess 36 triplet stanzas tell the story of a rich and privileged princess feeling isolated, alone and miserable due to her distance from reality and the people of her kingdom. The privilege of the rulers is shown in stark contrast to the starvation of the ordinary people, while their arrogance and lack of sympathy are a message from Rossetti about the lack of support for those who suffered during the cotton crisis where trade with the US was cut off and many workers in cotton mills were left destitute. Eventually the princess sacrifices herself to highlight the need for the situation to change and so that for once in her life she is able to feel a part of somethign and not isolated and alone.
19. Song (When I am dead, My dearest)
20. Winter: My Secret
21. Shut Out Again this poem deals with Rossetti’s self-imposed exile from life, love and earthly fulfillment. In this poems she explores all the beauty and joy available on earth and that she could have had. There is a sense of depression and misery throughout, but the end is hopeful about her future life and the choice she has made – to dedicate herself to faith and thus enjoy all the good stuff for eternity in heaven.
22. Twice
23. Memory
24. Up-hill This poem presents the two sides of a person trying to be dedicated to faith. Seemingly an internal conversation or dialogue between doubt and faith, Rossetti asks questions that indicate how difficult it is to resist temptation and live a life of purity. However, these questions are always met with definitive and reassuring responses that demonstrate an inner confidence that her earthly sacrifices will be rewarded.
25. ‘Summer is Ended’
26. To Lalla, reading my verses topsy-turvy

Author: Mr Sir

Although I've only been teaching Literature since 2011 and did my degree in History, I think that makes me better placed than many Lit teachers to provide notes that make sense and aren't garbled and wrapped up with inaccessible terminology and effluent nonsense. After adventures in Uganda and Uzbekistan, I am now settling down in the Netherlands. However, currently I am just about as unsettled as I have ever been, with a new job, a new baby, a new country and a hundred other things going on! Ask me a question, collaborate or abuse me.

2 thoughts on “A2 Comparison Grid”

    1. Haha! Not one of my better predictions.

      I’d forgotten all about this. I think I was relying on my students to do some of the leg work and they rather let me down. Hmmm, I should get this done, but I am desperate to start doing the new iGCSE stuff. Maybe I can promise to have it done before Christmas? That might be a more realistic timeframe!

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