By L. Palazzo
Learn within the context of rising nineteenth Century women's theology, Rossetti's devotional prose indicates a different choice for the "wisdom texts" of scripture, and foreshadows the paintings of major feminist theologians this day. This quantity disputes the idea that Rossetti used to be a follower of Keble and Pusey, and exhibits how her dissatisfaction with the male-dominated name to celibacy led her to reject their notions of worldliness, and to shape a more in-depth bond with the actual global and the physique.
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Traditional readings’, Rossetti finds, are patriarchal readings, and if she probes them further, she risks utter despair in finding that they, like the rest of the trappings of Christianity, are after all no more than the tools of oppression. Take, for example, the milkmaid episode. 94) as a representative of evil. But the Victorian reader would immediately recognise the milkmaid as an evil temptress, a Miltonic Eve leading Adam astray. There is no subversion here. The narrator even raises in her audience if not a laugh, then a wry smile, in the revelation that the Prince is making excuses for himself.
Her attendants are reiterating the suffocating illusion that they have been taught: recompense in death for suffering on earth. There is nothing redemptive about this kind of suffering. Another poem of the period, ‘The Iniquity of the Fathers Upon the Children’, has been recognised as a poem of outrage against social hypocrisy, but it fits in here as a cry of disillusionment and anger against the Church and a Christianity which blights an innocent life, and drives a wedge between mother and daughter.
Laura’s leaping and writhing is reminiscent of the demon-possessed man of the tombs in Mark 5:1–20, or the boy with the dumb spirit of Mark 9:17–29, who wallowed, grinding his teeth and foaming at the mouth, pining away until Jesus cast out the demon. Like the boy, Laura falls down senseless and awakens the next morning restored to life, health and the fruitfulness associated with the sisterhood of wisdom. The conclusion of the poem, in celebrating the triumph of Lizzie and her act of sisterly redemption, proclaims Christ as sister and friend of the vulnerable, of children, of daughters and of women.
Christina Rossetti's Feminist Theology by L. Palazzo