The Other Plot on “The Other Boat”

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On the surface E. M. Forster’s “The Other Boat” seems simply like a tale of lust and forbidden homosexual love. The coming together of Lionel and Cocoanut even seems to be a fated event, as the two knew each other briefly in boyhood. However, there is much more going on behind the tragic homosexual love story. In fact, there is even a devious subplot, that positions Cocoanut as the main character of the story as opposed to Lionel. As many of the clues sprinkled across this short story lead us to believe, Cocoanut is plotting Lionel’s downfall since before they meet on the second boat.

If we are to assume Cocoanut as the main character of the seedy subplot of this story, we should get a thorough look at his character. Once we are on the second boat, one of the first descriptive actions of Cocoanut that we get is him “climbing about like a monkey” (“The Other Boat” 2127). While this may allude in some way to his physicality (small, brown), we get the direct action of Cocoanut acting like a monkey. Monkeys, being small, nimble creatures are seen as being mischievous in many legends and mythologies. In places such as (ironically enough) India, monkeys have been known to play “harmless tricks,” such as stealing money, food, or… car parts.

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Monkeys do whatever suits them in the moment. Yet, they also play tricks. Cocoanut acting like a monkey is important to the rest of the subplot. Our actions become us, they are the mark of our character. If he acts like a mischievous little monkey, then he carries that mischievous, tricky quality with him.

When it comes to Cocoanut, mischievousness seems to fit the bill. Most honest men are straight-up about who they are. They have no angles. They can tell you any old fact about themselves off-hand. However, Cocoanut has an ease about keeping his identity a secret. Not even the reader knows his real name until the end of the story, and even this is a guess.

“For Cocoanut possessed two passports, not one like most people, and they confirmed a growing suspicion that he might not be altogether straight…. The information on the passports was conflicting, so that it was impossible to tell the twister’s age, or where he had been born or indeed what his name was” (“The Other Boat” 2132).

The fact that Cocoanut has two passports is suspicious in and of itself. However, what’s worse is the use of the word “twister” here. The way it’s mentioned in the text does not directly mention that it is Cocoanut who twisted the information. Yet, it is heavily implied by talking about the same two passports that are within our monkey’s possession. The word “twister” connotes a rearrangement, or a lack of clarity here. When someone says that you “have something twisted” it means that you have a bad understanding of the situation, or were misinformed. Yet, here it is Cocoanut who is causing the misinformation. He purposefully changes, creates, and utilizes two passports. It is also important to note that when someone lies, there is something to hide. Cocoanut is creating a cover, a fog or smoke, to cover something up. But what? Lionel even alludes to the very shadiness of the situation. He is suspicious of Cocoanut after knowing he has two passports. However, Lionel only sees this as an oddity, and does not seek to clarify things.

We get another view into Cocoanut’s character after he and Lionel have finished their “business.” He notices Lionel’s groin scar, wondering how it was acquired, and suggesting revenge. Lionel disagrees and Cocoanut answers: “‘Oh Lion, why not when it can be so sweet?'” (“The Other Boat” 2131). If we weren’t already suspicious of Cocoanut, it would be hard not to be here. He specifically describes revenge as being sweet, like candy. Things that are sweet (candy, pastries, honey) are made for the purpose of being consumed. And the purpose of eating is to sustain life. It is something we must regularly do, multiple times a day. To Cocoanut, revenge is a sweet cake, partaken of every now and then, but bordering necessity. But why would Cocoanut seek revenge? And on whom? We have only seen him, at least on the second boat, interacting with Lionel.

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As lovers do, the two continue their after-sex chat about various things. Lionel’s father even comes up, and it is mentioned that he “went native” and found a wife in Burma. Naturally, Cocoanut asks: “‘Might not therefore there be offspring?’ ‘If there were, they’d be half-castes‘” (“The Other Boat” 2134). Once Lionel finishes his thought about any illegitimate siblings, the next paragraph starts: “The half-caste smiled as the warrior floundered” (“The Other Boat” 2134). First, there is a doubling of the use of the word half-caste. It often means mixed race. Yet, since India has a caste system in their society, the term connotes that the person in question is half Indian, or has one foot in the caste system. Given the ties India has with Britain, it’s not any sort of leap to assume that the majority of half-castes had an English parent as well. That is certainly what Lionel means, when talking about the joining of his father with his new wife. However, the text decides to juxtapose Lionel’s mention of half-caste siblings with the mention that Cocoanut is half-caste. That seems strange. We go straight from siblings to Cocoanut. Huh. He is also seen smiling, while he watches Lionel “flounder.” Lionel is floundering over the thought of his father going native. Yet, Cocoanut is calm, collected, and… happy about Lionel struggling. There seems to be something Cocoanut knows that Lionel doesn’t, and something that may not be clear to the reader. The text is, however, giving us a message about the relation of the two. They’re not just lovers, they’re brothers.

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Need more? Time to head back to the first boat. As the children are all playing together, Olive rushes up to her mother and a gentleman, both of whom instantly start talking about Cocoanut. “‘Touch of the tar-brush, eh?’ ‘Yes, but it doesn’t matter on a voyage home. I would never allow it going to India'” (“The Other Boat” 2123). Two things are of note here. Firstly, it is stated that the boat is headed “home.” It is also stated that they’re not heading to India. So home must be Britain, since those are the only destinations of our two boats. It may not be uncommon, but it is certainly odd that a young Indian child is going to Britain. Especially since we now know that Cocoanut is half-caste. Still, this could be any parent taking their child to England. What’s stranger is that the mother states she “would never allow it going to India.” While racism is alive in this text, it’s not what stops the Mater from letting her children play with Cocoanut. There seems to be another implication behind the children playing together on the way to India. She is suspicious of someone seeing them all together, perhaps. Her former husband, as we know, is still in India. Surely, she wants nothing to do with the man who abandoned her. It is also likely that people in India know her husband. Seeing his children from two different wives playing together would be quite the scandal. If we are to assume that Cocoanut and Lionel are blood relations, it would explain the Mater’s specific disdain for Cocoanut, and her barring any India-bound playing.

Yet, what is it that Cocoanut is truly planning? We know by now that he has lured his half-brother into bed, repeatedly, and is basking in his incestuous revels. But we still don’t know why revenge is relevant. There is an incident just as the two are about to turn of the light and head to bed. Lionel checks the door and realizes that it was unlocked the whole time. This shocks him severely, given the illegality of their midnight romps. Of course, they then get into a fight over the necessity of the door being locked. Cocoanut, who cares little about the door being locked, starts to cry.

“He was weeping because he had planned wrongly. Rage rather than grief convulsed him. The bolt unbolted, the little snake not driven back into its hole — he had foreseen everything else and ignored the enemy at the gate” (“The Other Boat” 2139).

Cocoanut is not crying because he and Lionel are fighting. His plan did not go accordingly. That much is directly stated. What plan was that? It is stated that “rage rather than grief convulsed him.” If he were grieving, it would have to be over fighting with his lover. Yet, this is not the case. Instead, his is angered. There is another driving force. His plan has been foiled. If it were a plan simply of love, he has attained this again and again. There would be very little reason for anger. No, there is something more for Cocoanut to be angry about. The bolt is specifically mentioned. Lionel did not think to lock the door. Yet, Cocoanut says “‘I knew it was unlocked all the time'” (“The Other Boat” 2137).

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This was purposeful. Something about being caught is important to Cocoanut. Especially that night. It should be noted that homosexuality was illegal in both Britain and India at this time, and could be severely punished. Lionel even mentions that he could be court-martialed if he’s caught. This is likely what Cocoanut wanted. If Lionel was caught, revenge would be short in coming. And we know how slimy Cocoanut is. Even though homosexual acts were illegal in India, he could have easily faked his identity with one of his two passports, or found some other means of escape.

In the end, Cocoanut’s attempt at revenge on Lionel is foiled. They both die tragically. However, Cocoanut may have succeeded. Yet, why was he plotting any revenge at all? Mostly, this can only be assumed. Since the two are brothers, it could be that Cocoanut is jealous of Lionel and his life in Britain, of his apparent wealth and status. It could be that he believes he deserves something of Lionel’s based on shared blood. Still, one thing is certain: the monkey, behind the scenes, was plotting his lion’s downfall.

Works Cited

McGhee, Beth. “Homosexuality in the First World War.” WW1 East Sussex, 8 Feb. 2016, http://www.eastsussexww1.org.uk/homosexuality-in-wwi/.
Military.com. “Courts-Martial Explained.” Military.com, CodyUnderwood, http://www.military.com/benefits/military-legal-matters/courts-martial-explained.html.
Military.com. “Courts-Martial Explained.” Military.com, CodyUnderwood, http://www.military.com/benefits/military-legal-matters/courts-martial-explained.html.
“The Other Boat.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature, by Stephen Greenblatt et al., W.W. Norton, 2012, pp. 2122–2142.
Sinai, Roy. “Gay In India.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 11 July 2012, http://www.forbes.com/2009/07/06/gay-homosexual-court-decision-opinions-contributors-india.html#2c10b43fddc9.
“Symbolic Monkey Meaning and Monkey Totem Meaning.” http://Www.whats-Your-Sign.com, 26 Apr. 2018, http://www.whats-your-sign.com/symbolic-monkey-meaning.html.
“A Timeline of Gay Rights in the UK.” The Week UK, The Week UK, 27 July 2017, http://www.theweek.co.uk/87213/a-timeline-of-gay-rights-in-the-uk.
“Twister.” Dictionary.com, Dictionary.com, http://www.dictionary.com/browse/twister?s=t.

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A Murderer at Mary Robinson’s The Haunted Beach

The Haunted Beach is one of Mary Robinson’s most successful pieces of literature. Not only that, but its smooth-sounding rhythm caught the attention of Samuel Coleridge. As we know, in The Haunted Beach we are given the image of a mysterious beach, accompanied by a fisherman, and later two individuals who discover the body of a dead man. In class, we talked about how the fisherman was sad and guilty, and we theorized the possibility that the shipwrecked man is actually the fisherman, and the dead body is the one of the real fisherman. This to me seemed almost impossible, but had me thinking of the idea that what if the shipwrecked man was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and came across a fisherman who killed him specifically for what he possessed in his pockets. Therefore, a more sinister image is being portrayed in this poem. The fisherman is in fact a murderer, who murdered the shipwrecked man, and murdered the two individuals accompanying him as clearly shown by descriptions of the characters’ backstories.29906170001_5613113868001_5613086299001-vs.jpg

To understand the eery imaging being portrayed in this poem, we first need to understand the first two stanzas:

 

Upon a lonely desert beach,
Where the white foam was scatter’d,
A little shed uprear’d its head,
Though lofty barks were shatter’d.
The sea-weeds gathering near the door,
A sombre path display’d;
And, all around, the deafening roar
Re-echoed on the chalky shore,
By the green billows made.

Above a jutting cliff was seen
Where sea-birds hover’d craving;
And all around the craggs were bound
With weeds–for ever waving.
And here and there, a cavern wide
lts shadowy jaws display’d;
And near the sands, at ebb of tide,
A shiver’d mast was seen to ride
Where the green billows stray’d.

(lines 1-18)

In the beginning of the poem, Robinson presented us with an eerie description of the beach in Europe by using gothic/moody language. We learned in class and through presentations that gothic language is language that presents a dark picture, meaning moody tones, phrases, even the supernatural. In the first two stanzas of the poem, we are already being set up for this murder mystery scene. Mary Robinson does this by setting up the reader’s impression of this beach such as by saying “upon a lonely desert beach” (line 1), “a sombre path displayed” (line 6), “the deafening roar/ re-echoed on the chalky shore” (line 8-9), “its shadowy jaws display’d” (line 15) and a “a shiver’d mast was seen to ride” (line 17). These are just few phrases used by Robinson that provoke an eerie images of the beach before we meet the fisherman. A lonely desert beach portrays the image of a beach with nobody on it, and the phrase “its shadowy jaws” when referring to the cavern provoke the reader into thinking something dark and twisted is about to happen because of that word “jaws”. Most people have the connotation of “jaws” referring to sharp teeth or danger because of the movie Jaws. Below I have two pictures displaying what image I think she is trying to display and why it is important for us to understand the scenery before we get into the action.

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This is what I image the beach looking like because Robinson says it is “a lonely desert beach”. Nobody is on the beach, and the image being black and white adds to the mystery of the beach. (Image courtesy of Roberto Caucino at Shutterstock)
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In the last stanza before we meet the fisherman, Robinson says how “a shiver’d mast was seen to ride”. This translates to a broken mast (of a ship) was riding in the water, because shiver’d is a synonym for broken, and a mast if the pole of the ship. Obviously the boat she is talking about most likely does not have ammunition on it, but I felt this picture captures the broken mast of the ship in the water. (Image courtesy of James Bell at Alamy)

Now that we have touched briefly on the mood of the poem and the language Robinson presents, let’s get into why we are really here and talk about the fisherman. The fisherman is a murderer because he has ghosts following him on the beach.

“The fisherman beheld a band/ Of spectres gliding hand in hand–/  Where the green billows play’d/ And pale their faces were as snow,” (lines 25-26).

Something sinister is clearly happening here because of these individuals accompanying the fisherman. The phrase “pale their faces were as snow”. gives hint to that. This phrase is referring to the specters, or ghosts. The definition of a specter is a ghost, according to the Cambridge Dictionary. This stanza translates to “the fisherman sees a group of ghosts hand in hand where the green tides were, their faces pale as snow” because of how beheld refers to seeing, and a band is a group (Cambridge Dictionary). There is a reason why these specters are following the fisherman, and that is because he is haunting them for murdering him. The fisherman has a guilty conscience as shown further down, and part of this is because of his murderous ways. I interpret the above quote as being a hint that the fisherman has committed murder in the past, because why else would he have a group of ghosts following him hand-in-hand?

The fisherman is also a murderer because he murdered the shipwrecked man found in the hut. The murdered man in the hut is the shipwrecked man who had “Spanish gold” in his pocket. We know that the moment he reached the land, he was murdered because of the lines “And mark’d the sailor reach the land,/ And mark’d his murderer wash his hand/ Where the green billows play’d.” (lines 61-62). This can be interpreted as the sailor was murdered as soon as he washed ashore, because of the phrases “marked the sailor reach the land” and “marked his murderer wash his hand”. These two phrases play off of each other, and show parallels except for “the sailor” and “the murderer”, showing that the sailor washed up on the same shores that he was murdered at. We also know that it was murder because of the overkill, specifically because he has “ten wide gashes in his head”. 10 gashes in someone’s had is a little overkill if it is anything but an accident. Some murderers look back on the places where they dump their victim’s bodies, so it wouldn’t shock me if this is what the fisherman is doing when he walks there with his band of specters.

In the beginning of the second-to-last stanza, we are told that murderer, I mean, the fisherman, is feeling guilty about something as mentioned prior. Specifically we are told “And since that hour the fisherman/ Has toil’d and told in vain;” (lines 63-64). This is followed after being told about the murderer washing his hands in the same water that the shipwrecked man ended up. If the fisherman did nothing wrong, and did not kill this man, then why is he feeling guilty about something? Let’s look now at the very last stanza:

Full thirty years his task has been,
Day after day more weary;
For Heaven design’d his guilty mind 

Should dwell on prospects dreary.
Bound by a strong and mystic chain,
He has not power to stray;
But destined misery to sustain,
He wastes, in solitude and pain,
A loathsome life away. (lines 82-90)

(For a better understanding, in modern language this means:

For thirty years his job has been,/ Day after day more hard;/ For Heaven made his guilty mind/ in a way that he must think about things that make him sad. Attached by a chain, he cannot leave; but only stay in mystery, he wastes away his life in misery, he wastes his lonely life away”.)

This is important to look at because of the fact that it says he is basically chained by his guilty mind because of the fact that he feels guilty for the murders he has committed. Why is he guilty? How could someone feel guilty if they did not do something awful? Shelley AJ Jones, a scholar from the University of South Carolina- Colombia, actually discusses this as well in her dissertation: Revising for Genre: Mary Robinson’s Poetry from Newspaper Verse to Lyrical Tales. She agrees saying, “This poem, unique among the tragic tales, centers its tale on an anti-hero, the Fisherman whose murder and resultant guilt bind him eternally to the place of his crime (Jones, 150). However, she touches on how fisherman has the motive of the Spanish gold for being the reason of the murder, and that he is stuck there on the beach because of his guilty mind. I agree with her for the most part, but I am still unconvinced that he murdered the shipwrecked man just for the purpose that he has gold. This is because there are other ghostly figures on the beach, and I have the interpretation that the fisherman also killed those people as well though the poem does not have any definite proof alluding to that.

Clearly, there is so much more going on with this poem beneath the surface. Originally, I thought that this poem was about a serial killer, and that the fisherman murdered the two people he saw hand-in-hand. Once I began researching this poem, and looking up almost every word, I have a new understanding. I know now that the fisherman was being accompanied by ghosts rather than people that he was going to kill because of how “spectres” are ghosts. And I am more certain on my stance that the fisherman is in fact a serial killer, and viciously murdered the shipwrecked man in addition to his ghostly pals. I am curious what other people thought about this poem, so leave a comment below with your interpretation.

 

Work Cited:

Cambridge University Press. “Cambridge online dictionary,” Cambridge Dictionary online.

Robinson, Mary. “The Haunted Beach”. The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Romantic Period. Gen. ed Julia Reidhead. 9th ed. Vol. D. New York: Norton, 2012. 83-84. Print.

Jones, S. Revising for Genre: Mary Robinson’s Poetry om Newspaper Verse to Lyrical Tales. (Doctoral dissertation). 2014. Retrieved from hp://scholarcommons.sc.edu/etd/3008

McClellan, Ann. “The Romantic Period” Rethinking Modern British Lit. Spring 2018. Plymouth State University. In-class discussion.

 

Photos:

Bell, James. Masts of the wreck of the SS Richard Montgomery lying 1 mile north of the Sheerness in the Thames Estuary. http://www.alamy.com/stock-photo-masts-of-the-wreck-of-the-ss-richard-montgomery-lying-1-mile-north-145366937.html

Caucino, Robert. Dyrholary, a black volcanic beach on the south coast of Iceland, Europe. https://www.shutterstock.com/video/clip-5343395-stock-footage-dyrholaey-a-black-volcanic-beach-on-the-south-coast-of-iceland-europe.html

USA Today, A hurricane in Ireland? They may become more common. No date available. https://www.usatoday.com/videos/weather/2017/10/16/-hurricane-ireland-they-may-become-more-common/106712022/

 

End Poverty, Eat the Children!

 

Never trust a King to solve your nation’s problems. That’s exactly what happened to Ireland when King Henry II, who was supposed to help the internal issues of Ireland, but instead decided that he would invade the country. The invasion would cause a long battle to ensue between the two nations, one who was power hungry, and the other who only sought independence. King Henry II with the help of Pope Adrian IV (only English Pope), was deemed as the “Lord of Ireland” (“The History of Ireland”).  Thus, starting England’s control over the nation and causing Ireland to become poor stricken under the rule of the British Empire.

The overpopulation of poor children in poverty-stricken Ireland is the “issue” in the satirical essay, A Modest Proposal, written by Dr. Jonathan Swift. Ireland, already facing a crisis with the invasion of England, and the devastating famine,  also faced a problem with the crippling population of children from the poor people (mostly the women beggars) within the country, Swift states:

“It is a melancholy object to those, who walk through this great town, or travel in our country, when they see the streets, the roads and cabbin-doors crowded with beggars of the female sex, followed by three, four, or six children, all in rags, and importuning every passenger for an alms” (Swift, 1729).

Ireland

The line that is the most notable is the emphasis of the sex of the beggars, instead of simply stating that there are beggars among the streets, Swift makes the conscious decision to note their gender, as if saying that, that is perhaps the reason behind their unfortunate livelihoods. One can argue that this is a clear insult to women and our “inferior” sex to men. The result of the beggars being women is that of an overpopulation of poor children, which to Swift is a nuisance to their country, and that is the reasoning behind his proposal of how to relieve Ireland of the stress of all those poor beggar children. The solution Swift says was brought about to him by an American acquaintance that he met in London:

“I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in  fricasie, or ragoust” (Swift, 1729 ).

As we had discussed in class the possible reason as to why Swift, clarifies that it was an American that gave and encouraged the idea of eating the children was due to the belief that many of the American colonists resorted to cannibalism due to starvation, and lack of resources. We had also briefly discussed the colony of Roanoke, and cannibalism being a possible reason for the unknown disappearances of the people from the said colony. By using the children as a mean to not only bring food to the people of Ireland but also as a way to bring an end to the country’s poverty. Most of the country’s wealth was swept away by the increase in British rule.

Especially since most Irishmen and women were Catholic, they no longer had any power due to the religious take over of the Protestant. As in an article written by Laura Leddy Turner, The Life of Poor Irish in the 1700s, Protestant English landowners became middle class in the 1700s, while the Irish Catholics delved deeper into poverty. England had claimed Ireland’s land as it’s own, forcing the Irish people into a state is desperation. As the satire draws closer to the end, it becomes evident that Swift is clearly stating a metaphorical f-you to Britain, as the English landowners where economically bleeding the Irish dry, Swift states, “I grant this food will be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for landlords, who, as they have already devoured most of the parents, seem to have the best title to the children” (Swift, 1729).

By saying that Swift is stating that the landlords aka the British have already eaten the parents of the children, so it’s only fitting that they have “the best title to the children” as if the children were a part of their property instead of being human. Which all throughout the essay, Swift compares the Irish to cattle, due to the way the British treated them as such. Swift starts the essay off as if the overpopulation of children is the problem within the country, but in fact, the underlying problem is clearly expressed as the British control over Ireland which causes the country’s poverty.

“I desire those politicians who dislike my overture, and may perhaps be so bold to attempt an answer, that they will first ask the parents of these mortals, whether they would not at this day think it a great happiness to have been sold for food at a year old, in the manner I prescribe, and thereby have avoided such perpetual scene of misfortunes, as they have sincere gone through, by the oppression of landlords, the impossibility of paying rent without money or trade, the want of common sustenance, with neither house nor cloaths to cover them from the inclemencies of the weather, and the most inevitable prospect of intailing the like, or greater miseries, upon their breed for ever” (Swift, 1729).

It is with this paragraph at the end of Swift’s essay, that we are confronted with the meaning behind his modest proposal. He asks the politicians to question the people of Ireland. Inquiring if they would have rather been eaten at the tender age of a year, or to grow and experience the misfortunes that have been forced upon them by the British, and still inevitably be involved in the misery of the Irish people. Nonetheless,  the effect of this passage brings the reader to an understanding of what the Irish were put through because of Britain, how they were oppressed because of the British Crown, and treated like that of nothing more than cattle.

Works Cited

Text Source:

Swift, Jonathan. “A Modest Proposal”. 1729

Article:

https://classroom.synonym.com/life-poor-irish-1700s-13171.html 

Turner, Laura Leddy. “The Life of Poor Irish in the 1700s.” Synonym, classroom.synonym.com/life-poor-irish-1700s-13171.html.

Image:

https://www.historyireland.com/18th-19th-century-history/a-sexual-revolution-in-the-west-of-ireland/

Class Material:

Ireland’s Colonial History

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Ireland 

 

 

 

 

Even The Americans Are British: T.S. Eliot

According to poets.org, T.S Eliot was born as Thomas Sterns Eliot in St. Louis, Missouri in 1888. He lived in Missouri until leaving to earn both undergraduate and master degrees at Harvard. He then traveled to Paris, until returning to Harvard to gain a
doctorate degree in Philosophy. He did not move to England until he was twenty-six years old. He did not become a citizen of Britain until 1927. Why is Eliot’
s background important? Well, what makes British Literature and American Literature differ in this sense? Although Eliot had both a citizenship of England and America, he is always noted as a British writer, being anthologized in the Norton Anthology of British Literature we use in class. Through understanding Eliot’s works readers can understand what it means to be a British writer.

File:Thomas Stearns Eliot with his sister and his cousin by Lady Ottoline Morrell.jpg
Morrell, Lady Ottoline. Thomas Stearns (‘T.S.’) Eliot with his sister and his cousin. Digital image. Wikimedia.org. National Portrait Gallery, 1934. Web. 14 May 2017.

Due to Eliot living in England during both World War I and World War II, a lot of his work shows the darkness that England, and most of Europe faced during this hardships. His poem “The Hollow Men”, sheds light on the dark times of England. The poem starts out with two different Epigraphs. The first is a quotation from Joseph Conrad’s novel we read earlier in this time period, Heart of Darkness. By starting out with “Mistah Kurtz- he dead” (Eliot 2543), it shows the death of an older man who agreed with Western imperialism. Although this time is “over” due to Mistah Kurtz’s death, by starting the poem out with this allusion, points out the fact that the troubles of England have been ingrained for a while, and are still going on even though imperialism died with Mistah Kurtz. The second Epigraph is referencing to children begging to pennies to guy fireworks to kindle scarecrows for Guy Fawkes’s day, a national holiday for England. These scarecrows, are to represent Guy Fawkes who was a traitor to the British. A holiday basically for kids to set fire to a symbol of a traitor; talk about some national pride! Both of these epigraphs show the death and doom that life in England have. First the imperialism (and death of) and the death of the traitor, we can tell this poem is not light stuff.

In Line 15 and 16 of the poem, the speaker give allusion of parts of Canto 3 of Dante’s Inferno. In Dante’s Inferno, groups of souls were excluded from Hell because they were not bad enough. In Eliot’s poem is states “Remember us- if at all- not as lost violent souls, but only as the hollow men” (Eliot 2543). They cannot take a side, so they are basically in Purgatory. This makes the reader think if the speaker is referring to Britain as a purgatory. The men aren’t lost or violent, they are just- there. The poem also references Dante’s Inferno in line 60 as the speaker states, “Gathered on this beach of the tumid river” (Eliot 2543). The term “beach of the tumid river” gives understanding that this river, most liking the Acheron River, which is a branch of the mythological River Styx, is swollen. Swollen shows that the river is overfull, just how the London streets must have felt to Eliot at the time of his writing. The term “beach” makes a reader think of a vacation, yet this is not a vacation at all. It is the life of these hollow men.

In lines 77, and 91-94 there are references to the Lord’s Prayer that many Christians still know by heart. “For Thine is the Kingdom” (Eliot 2543), refers to Heaven. This is a drastic switch from talking about Hell in previous lines. This relates to how difficult living in England is, especially during the World Wars and how the “kingdom” meaning heaven is the goal, yet it is rather unreachable. This plays into the purgatory idea again, that they are neither in heaven or hell. They are just there. Also, “For Thine is the Kingdom” starts the end of the prayer, which is a prayer often read right before someone passes away, if the death is imminent, and could have meaning that the speaker might be close to death or that they know someone who is. It might also mean that England as a whole is just people close to death.

“This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but with a whimper.”

(Eliot 2543)

Many scientists believe that the world started with a bang- the big bang. Yet, with this the speaker is showing that war (the bang) will not end the world, but the whimper of the dying will. Although this poem is not very uplifting, I suppose this ending can give the reader a sense of hope that war won’t end the world, yet that’s a stretch.

So, how does this poem show that Eliot is a British writer? Although America also has hardships, this poem relates itself to many different British epigraphs and metaphors. Throughout the entire poem, it relates “the hollow men” to those who are stuffed just like the scarecrows about to explode.It shows the pain living in England has on people, and how it feels like they are living in purgatory. The important of British Literature, is not about the country in which the author was born, but how their literature helps solidify history and culture of the country.

Works Cited
Eliot, T.S.  “The Hollow Men” The Norton Anthology English Literature. Vol. F. N.p.: n.p., n.d. 2543. Print.
IgniterMedia. “The Lord’s Prayer.” YouTube. YouTube, 03 Feb. 2014. Web. 14 May 2017.
Morrell, Lady Ottoline. Thomas Stearns (‘T.S.’) Eliot with his sister and his cousin. Digital image. Wikimedia.org. National Portrait Gallery, 1934. Web. 14 May 2017.
“T. S. Eliot.” Poets.org. Academy of American Poets, 02 Oct. 2015. Web. 14 May 2017.

Poets of World War I: Nature vs. Reality

ottodix
Transporting the Wounded in Houthulst Forest (Verwundetentransport im Houthulster Wald) Artist: Otto Dix

The Great War of 1914 offered a rich basis for the expansion of reactionary literature and, more specifically, poetry. Narratives surrounding WWI were particularly uplifting in 1914, when England offered an idealistic view of what soldiers endured in war through the use of propaganda. Many young men (younger than the age of 18) enlisted in the war, not knowing the full breadth of what they were fighting for. Patriotism rang through the first generation to enter WWI, and many of them died before the war progressed further. Industrialization drastically affected battlefields, and shifted the approach soldiers took when fighting the enemy. Germany had machine guns at the start of the First World War, whereas England still relied on horseback and bayonets. Soldiers quickly learned that the method of fighting would not subdue Germany, and England had to reverse her war strategy. Soldiers in the trenches suffered from disease and severe illness, oftentimes from the rain and lack of hygiene. There was no sign of glory when the soldiers remained in trenches for lengths of time, and it was a wildly dehumanizing experience. Oftentimes, family members back home had contempt for the war because their young sons were put to their deaths. The shift in mindset was critical to keeping up the morale of the war, and the number of soldiers who wrote poems and narratives were plentiful. Soldiers who wrote at the start of the war versus toward the end had contrasting perspectives about what, exactly, they were fighting for.

9ff2a4de34c31903954cb22677ff9f5e
Rupert Brooke

Rupert Brooke used nature to invoke patriotism in his poem, The Soldier. He passed away early on in World War I, and this fact certainly dictated the pro-war tone in his writing. The glorification of war and death is evident in his work, and the merging of natural imagery with the reality of the industrialization of war. Brooke speaks of death as a possibility, not as a definitive fate: “If I should die…” Brooke creates a persona that does not speak of specific images of war, but he focuses on the generalization of space: “There’s some corner of a foreign field/That is forever England.” War is a very specific and complex endeavor, but Brooke’s language makes the thought of war seem like a dream-like image and a hazy, lovely place. He makes his own death tangible by linking a “foreign field” back to his homeland, England. The image of blood spilling is joined with another vision of English blood seeping into foreign earth: “In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;/A dust whom England bore…” Brooke displays a tint of the “dust to dust, ashes to ashes” rhetoric here in his description that the soil is made richer from his dying on it. His second stanza is over-ridden by natural imagery, the semantic field of: “flowers”, “roam”, “body”, “air”, “rivers”, and “suns of home” solidifies the romantic notion of death caused by war. The first line of his third stanza represents the shedding away of the grotesque-ness that death and war bring: “And think, this heart, all evil shed away”. The pulsing of the English heart beats strong against the darkness of war, and Brooke ends his poem with: “In hearts at peace, under and English heaven.” Heaven becomes a localized object that each English patriot brings onto the battlefield with them, an ethereal image that Brooke injects into both himself and every English solder in the war. Brooke died early on in the war from dysentery and never made it to Gallipoli, so his generational thoughts were never affected by the atrocities which occurred later on.

sigsassoon
Siegfried Sassoon

Unlike Brooke, Siegfried Sassoon was sent home in 1917 after a bullet ripped through his body, literally rupturing the very flesh of his English patriotism. He emerged from the war a more hardened and defiant individual, and he was completely disillusioned with the propaganda and the rose-colored glasses that every soldier was handed before stepping foot on a battlefield. His anger is apparent in the tone of his poetry, and he embeds horrific, grotesque imagery. In his poem, The Rear-Guard, Sassoon makes no attempt to ease the reader into the poem itself, but tosses the reader into the action. Sassoon uses the pronoun “he”, directly contrasting Brooke’s use of “I”, and this change in pronoun offers a distanced perspective. Sassoon deliberately chooses the specific location of a trench, and does not sweep over a foreign landscape as Brooke did. His first line, “Groping along the tunnel, step by step” suggests immediacy and a painful, slow, methodological process. Sassoon ends his first stanza with, “And he, exploring fifty feet below/The rosy gloom of battle overhead.” This rose color is physically separate from where the persona is in the poem, as if the rose-colored glasses were ripped off the face of the soldier and thrown up into the air to be disintegrated into this haze. The romantic thoughts that were once part of his mind are no longer reachable, and become distant. As the persona traverses the tunnel, he stumbles on a dead body: “Savage, he kicked the unanswering heap,/And flashed his beam across the livid face/Terribly glaring up, whose eyes yet wore/Agony dying hard ten days before”. Sassoon does not describe any kind of reaction from the persona, only the image of death in its raw, faceless, reality. The last lines of the poem contrast the natural image of the air surrounding the soldier persona, and the figurative image of his state of mind: “He climbed through darkness to the twilight air,/Unloading hell behind him step by step.” Hell is not capitalized here, thus communicating to the reader that Sassoon does not mean hell in the religious sense of the word. Hell, to the solider in the trench, is a state of mind and lies embedded in the memory of war.

Side-by-side, Brooke and Sassoon offer two sides of the spectrum in terms of the morale of English soldiers and what truly went on in the war. War is most definitely a psychological endeavor, but the damage is not evident in Brooke’s poem. Sassoon clashes with the patriotic thought and offers a raw rendering of his own experiences. As a 21st century reader, one would be inclined to say that the truth is more important; but tethered with the progression of WWI, is it not better to have a dream to live for? Sassoon speaks of loss as a distanced, dehumanizing experience, whereas Brooke personalizes and tethers loss to home. What matters more: remembering the spilled blood, or remembering the reasons it was spilled? It would have been difficult to establish any semblance of a positive outlook or outcome without the artists and dreamers that emerged from the trenches.

 

 

Works Cited

Beresford, George Charles. Siegfried Sassoon. Digital image. Wikipedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 May 2017. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siegfried_Sassoon#/media/File:Siegfried_Sassoon_by_George_Charles_Beresford_(1915)&gt;.

Brooke, Rupert. “The Soldier.” The Norton Anthology English Literature. Vol. F. N.p.: n.p., n.d. 2018. Print.

Dix, Otto. Verwundetentransport Im Houthulster Wald. Digital image. The Guardian. Courtesy The Trustees of the British Museum DACS 2014, 14 May 2014. Web. 13 May 2017. <https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2014/may/14/art-apocalypse-otto-dix-first-world-war-der-krieg-in-pictures&gt;.

Rupert Brooke. Digital image. King’s College Cambridge. N.p., 20 Apr. 2015. Web. 13 May 2017. <http://www.kings.cam.ac.uk/news/2015/brooke-centenary&gt;.

Sassoon, Siegfried. “The Rear-Guard.” The Norton Anthology English Literature. Vol. F. N.p.: n.p., n.d. 2024. Print.

The Young and the Futureless?

wwipropaganda

World War I was a rough time for Britain, and one for which it was totally unprepared. The Germans were inching closer to Britain country by country, causing the British people to get awfully nervous about their homeland being invaded. The British military had to meet the Germans on the front line with drastically inferior weapons and numbers. Men who were enlisted in the army were getting slaughtered, and as they dropped like flies, people were needed to fill their space! Propaganda was circulated encouraging young British men to serve and protect their country. Here is a BBC article on the underage Brits joining the fight. This was a tragic era for men and women alike. In class we read a sampling of poets who were moved by their country’s condition. Wilfred Owen, May Weddrerburn Cannan, and Rupert Brooke were just a few of the people choosing to write about this tumultuous time. Although Wilfred Owen and Rupert Brooke both fought in the war, Owen’s poem Anthem for the Doomed Youth takes on a less positive tone toward war than Brooke’s The Soldier, which was widely distributed to encourage men to join up.

The title alone, Anthem for Doomed Youth, gives us some forewarning of what the poem is going to be addressing. An anthem is defined by Merriam Webster as a “song or hymn of praise or gladness,” and the first example listed is a “patriotic anthem” which is about pride for one’s country. Obviously in 1917 when this poem was written, Britain needed some praise, some gladness, and some pride from its people. However, this anthem is not for the country. It is for “doomed youth,” also known as those young men brutally sacrificing their lives for their country. Doomed leads me to believe that the subject to the doom (the youth) do not have very happy futures ahead of them. One’s youth seems so early to already be doomed, but that is the kind of struggle people were having in Britain (and probably world-wide). I assume that they were doomed because they are going on to fight in the war.

Owen is asking in this poem what kind of honor and ceremony can be given to these poor young men dying on the frontline “as cattle,” (2034). Cattle are killed masses at a time, which means that there is some carelessness present. There are no “passing-bells” as they die, but only the sound of gun fire. They do not even get prayers (“hasty orisons”) and the only “voice of mourning” are the “demented choirs of wailing shells,” (2034). The deaths are unceremonious and go largely unnoticed among all the deadly distractions. Without prayers, do they still have God in that moment? I would not think so, although I am not religious. The words “demented” and “wailing” both contrast harshly with the image of the choir. A choir is a group that sings all together at church proceedings. Without prayers, passing-bells, or choir songs, there is nothing to mark the inconsequential deaths of British soldiers.

There are also no candles being held “to speed them all,” (2035). Speed them to where? Heaven maybe? And if they are not being sped there, then where are they going? Hell? And why is speeding necessary? If the journey between death and heaven is a grueling one, then how fair is it that these boys, fighting for the good of their country, are the ones struggling through their afterlife?  The falling soldiers’ goodbyes are “Not in the hands of boys but in their eyes,” (2035). Their hands give them control, and are what they have been using all along to enact their orders sent to them from above. Their eyes however are a window to their souls and their subconscious, of which they are not in control. Their opportunity for goodbyes and closure has been ripped from their very hands. Owen’s use of the word “boys” also seems deliberate, as opposed to using “men” or another term. Boys are part of the “youth” that is “doomed” because of the war.

There is a line about how “the pallor of the girls’ brows shall be their pall,” (2035) and I did not quite know what to make of it. Pallor is a pale, unwell appearance, and a pall is the fabric draped over one’s coffin. What I eventually took this to mean though was that the boys went to war, at least in part to prevent the girls from being sickly. It was this hope of prevention that lead them to rush into a fatal situation, thus causing there to be a need for a pall. It also could just mean that the girls back home are sad and unwell alongside the coffins of the dead soldiers.

Words like “tenderness” and “patient” contrast with the rest of the poem. The soldiers who have died receive flowers, and they stand in for “the tenderness of patient minds,” (2035). Tenderness is a very caring and comforting word. I usually think of a mother’s tenderness, which has sympathy and love at the roots. All that these boys get of that tenderness at this point though are some flowers that they probably do not even know are there. The last line: “And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds,” (2035) contains what I found to be two euphemisms for death. The “slow dusk” is the end of the day, and the “drawing-down of blinds” means that one is no longer looking out on the world around them.

Overall this poem’s tone was not a positive one. Words like “monstrous”, “anger”, “demented”, and “mourning” give readers an idea of the emotions and adjectives that go along with something as dreadful as war. There are all of these people dying, and they are not getting the respect they deserve.

Citations:

Owen, Wilfred. “Anthem for Doomed Youth.” The Norton Anthology English Literature. Vol. F. N.p.: n.p., n.d. 2034-035. Print.

http://psdcollector.blogspot.com/2010/05/collection-of-world-war-propaganda.html

Hidden Beneath the Surface of Goblin Market

Of the many ideas, concepts, and events of the Victorian Period, the Victorian Temper emerged, and quickly became evident through the writing of the era. In a time where individuals favored earnest behaviors, moral responsibility, and domestic propriety, the Victorian Temper, while it helped to further encourage these behaviors, also urged individuals to repress and discourage any and all notions of reproduction and sex. While the prospective outcome of the Victorian Temper may have been to form a pure society in which individuals are free and cleansed of sexual thoughts and desires, the result may have been the complete opposite. According to Sigmund Freud, because the individuals of the Victorian Period worked with great force to repress all reproductive desires and urges, the people of the period may have thought about sexual encounters more than any other group, as they constantly made efforts to repress these thoughts; however, they remained beneath the surface. Though the people of the Victorian Period made efforts to repress such ideas, and worked to refrain from using sexual concepts explicitly in their conversations, many poets and writers of the period, perhaps accidentally, due to the force of the repression, included implicit sexual and reproductive cues in their writing. In particular, Christina Rossetti’s poem, Goblin Market, may, on the surface, appear to present a story of two children in a rather innocent and imaginary, fairy-tale like manner, the poem presents sexual connotations to the reader, suggesting that Rossetti, herself, may have sexual feelings that she tries to keep hidden, beneath the surface.

While Rossetti claims to write an innocent and imaginary story, she reveals certain implicit sexual connotations to the reader from the beginning of the text. While initially describing the Goblin cries, Rossetti explains, “Maids heard the goblins cry: / “Come buy our orchard fruits, / Come buy, come buy: / Apples and quinces”(Rossetti 1496). Here, Rossetti begins by depicting that “Maids,” which are young and unmarried girls, are able to hear the “goblins cry.” The idea that only “Maids” are able to hear the cries of the goblins appears to relay that the cries are only audible to virgin ears. The goblins then offer many fruits, which are all very different. The first fruit that Rossetti relays is an “Apple,” which appears to be a direct reference to the Christian religion’s story of Adam and Eve, in which the initially pure characters gave into temptation, and consumed the fruits, specifically, the “Apples,” of the forbidden tree. By starting off her list of fruits with “Apples,” Rossetti appears to imply that the pure and untouched “Maids” that she initially depicted, if they were to consume these fruits, will be giving into temptation, and, just like Adam and Eve, risk losing their purity. Though Rossetti may claim to depict an innocent story of children and fruit, the language, and order of her words, appears to suggest that Rossetti’s own implicit reproductive feelings are beginning to present themselves in her story.

Apple

(The Apple of temptation leads to a loss of innocence. Adam and Eve Apple. Sargents Fine Art. Web.)

Rossetti’s sexual implications continue to present themselves through Rossetti’s depictions of fruit in her text. While Rossetti continues to relay the cry that the “Maids” can hear, she writes, “Apples and quinces, / Lemons and oranges, / Plump unpecked cherries”(Rossetti 1496). Here, Rossetti depicts a range of fruits, all of which are plump and round, which appears to be symbolic of female bodies, which are known for their curvature, especially after the age of puberty. This is significant,   and contain juice within them.] Rossetti also describes “Plump unpecked cherries.” Using these adjectives to describe cherries suggests a deeper connotation behind Rossetti’s word choice. “Plump unpecked cherries,” are small and round red fruits, often connected to one another by a small stem, which appears to be symbolic of fallopian tubes, an aspect of female bodies. The depicted “plump” nature suggests that the “cherries” are rather large and juicy. Their claimed “unpecked” nature suggests that the “cherries” are pure, untouched, and in excellent and unused condition. The “unpecked” and untouched nature of the cherries appears to relate back to Rossetti’s initial depiction of the virginal “Maids,” relaying that the innocent girls are “unused,” likely in a sexual nature. This seems to suggest a deeper connotation behind Rossetti’s words. While Rossetti may claim to write innocently about fruit, here, she writes about fruits that are round, plump, and juicy, which appears to relay that Rossetti’s sexual feelings are beginning to present themselves from the start of the work.

Rossetti continues to depict sexual undertones as her work continues. While describing Laura’s initial encounter with the goblins, Rossetti writes, “She clipped a precious golden lock, / She dropped a tear more rare than pearl”(Rossetti 1499). Here, Rossetti writes that Laura “clipped a precious golden lock,” suggesting that she cut a sacred and pure piece of her hair, effectively “clipp[ing]” a piece of herself, or, perhaps, an element of who she is. Laura then “dropped a tear more rare than pearl,” which suggests that Laura became saddened, and a piece of herself, more precious and pure than an untouched orb, has fallen. Rossetti appears to depict that Laura has lost, or “dropped,” her own pureness, or, in other words, her own virginity. This seems to reinforce Rossetti’s depiction of “Maids” giving into temptation, as previously discussed, as, through her language, Rossetti appears to further depict that the “Maids” are giving into temptation, and, as a result, lose a “precious” piece of their “golden” purity. Though Rossetti may have intended to write an innocent portrayal of a girl interacting with goblins, through her depictions of a woman “drop[ping]” “golden” and pure pieces of themselves, Rossetti appears to imply a loss of virginity, subtly adding her own sexual feelings and implications to her work.

The actions and sensations with which Laura lost her virginity become blatantly clear in the following lines, where Rossetti writes that Laura, “Then sucked their fruit globes fair or red: / Sweeter than honey from the rock. / Stronger than men-rejoicing wine, / Clearer than water flowed that juice”(Rossetti 1499). Here, Rossetti depicts that Laura “sucked,” actively, using her own mouth, “their fruit globes fair or red,” implying that Laura orally interacted with the round, plump, and juicy fruit “globes,” of all varieties or colors, “fair or red.” After implying of this interaction, Rossetti elaborates upon Laura’s sexual enjoyment of the experience. Rossetti  claims that the round and plump fruits that Laura was “suck[ing]” “flowed” a certain “juice,” which Rossetti writes were “Clearer than water.” Suggesting that her female character “sucked” orbs that began to “flow” a certain “juice” appears to symbolize that Rossetti is depicting her character engaging in a sexual act, as her act of “suck[ing]” on globes, before “juice” begins to “flow,” further implies Laura’s oral intercourse, which Rossetti depicts results in a sort of ejaculation, a “flow[ing]” of “that juice.” [sexual encounters, organs.] Rossetti writes that Laura “sucked” fruits that were sweet, and the fruits had a powerful grasp upon Laura, further depicting that Rossetti’s own sexual undertones were presenting themselves through her writing.

Apple2

(Round fruit globes with juice inside. Medical News Today. Web.)

Rossetti continues to use language that presents her own repressed sexual feelings within her work. As Laura continues to passionately enjoy the goblin’s fruit for the first time, Rossetti writes, “She never tasted such before, / How should it cloy with length of use? / She sucked and sucked and sucked the more / Fruits which that unknown orchard bore; / She sucked until her lips were sore”(Rossetti 1499). Here, Laura is depicted as experiencing a new sensation, through the fruit, of which she has “never tasted” previously. Having previously been described as an innocent and untouched “Maid,” it appears increasingly evident that Rossetti is writing Laura’s encounters in a sexualized manner, as she repeats the word “sucked,” and she describes that Laura did so, until her “lips were sore.” Rossetti uses words, such as “taste,” and “suck,” which reinforce her sexualizations of Laura’s situation, depicting that Laura became increasingly involved in an oral activity that closely resembles oral intercourse. Rossetti’s implicit sexual undertones present themselves through her writing, as, while Rossetti may have intended to depict an innocent scene of Laura enjoying fruit, the language that she used is blatantly reproductive, suggesting the repression of her own deep sexual feelings.

Rossetti’s repressed sexual feelings continue to emerge through her writing, as she presents more reproductive implications as her work continues. While reflecting on her experience to Lizzie, Laura says, “I ate and ate my fill, / Yet my mouth waters still; / Tomorrow night I will buy more:” / and kissed her…”(Rossetti 1499). Here, Rossetti emphasizes that Laura “ate and ate [her] fill,” repeating her action of ‘eating,’ suggesting that Laura engaged in physical and natural acts of consumption, until she became satisfied. Rossetti continues to draw upon Laura’s “mouth,” in a seemingly objectifying manner, suggesting that her oral fixation is her main source for pleasure. Rossetti appears to further relay her own repressed sexual feelings, as she frequently mentions “mouth[s]” throughout the work, and oral satisfaction, rather than, say, a character’s stomach, after consuming “fruit.” Focusing solely upon oral satisfaction, which is further reinforced by Rossetti’s depiction that Laura immediately “kissed her” sister, it appears that Rossetti may be further implicitly symbolizing oral intercourse, as she places a heavy focus on “mouth[s],” and oral actions. Because she only focuses primarily upon oral aspects and satisfactions, and never mentions a satisfied stomach after consuming “fruit,” it would appear that Rossetti’s own implicit and repressed sexual feelings are presenting themselves through her writing.

Rossetti’s repressed sexual feelings continue to present themselves within her work. While Laura presents the details of her previous pleasurable encounter, she explains that, “You cannot think what figs / My teeth have met in, / What melons icy-cold / Piled on a dish of gold / Too huge for me to hold, / What peaches with a velvet nap, / Pellucid grapes without one seed”(Rossetti 1499). Rossetti continues to describe fruits that are plump, round, and juicy, suggesting that Laura experienced her own pleasure through her interactions with items of this nature. Here, it appears that Rossetti’s own repressed sexual feelings present themselves, as she describes that Laura’s “teeth have met in” the fruit, or, in other words, that Laura has orally penetrated “in[to]” these plump and juicy items. Rossetti describes the fruits in a sexual manner, claiming that they were “Too huge for [Laura] to hold.” After revealing Laura’s oral penetration, it appears, here, that Laura may become involved in further penetration, or, amid her pleasurable experience, the sexual satisfaction may have been too great “for [her] to hold,” and, in response, Rossetti appears to depict Laura’s experience of sexual ejaculation. This becomes further evident, as Rossetti follows this with depictions of “grapes without one seed,” suggesting that the once juicy and round fruits have, perhaps temporarily, lost their fertility, or, their own “seed.” Though Rossetti may claim to portray a young girl’s innocent explanation of the fruits she enjoyed, Rossetti’s words suggest aspects of fertility, such as penetration, and “seed[s],” which carry reproductive undertones, suggesting that her own repressed sexual feelings are presenting themselves in her writing.

Apple3

(Oral satisfaction; “You cannot think what figs My teeth have met in.” Lausanne Tourisme. Web.)

Rossetti’s repressed sexual feelings continue to present themselves through her writing. While explaining Lizzi’s plea to Laura that they return home for the evening, Rossetti writes, “Come with me home. […] Let us get home before the night grows dark: / For clouds may gather / Tho’ this is summer weather, / Put out the lights and drench us thro’: / Then if we lost our way what should we do?”(Rossetti 1501). Here, Rossetti employs multiple aspects of weather in her writing. By describing that “clouds may gather / Tho’ this is summer weather,” Rossetti appears to relay that the “summer” sun is shining, illuminating light, which appears to symbolize purity, and brightness, upon her characters. In this way, Rossetti appears to be referring to her previous depiction of her female characters as pure “Maids,” using the sun to emphasize their innocence, in this scene. Lizzi suggests that “clouds may gather,” suggesting that, if the innocent females are not careful, and give into the temptations, as previously discussed, “clouds” may gather, and the “light” which illuminates the girls may become obstructed, and “Put out.” The girls would then be subjected to a certain evil “dark[ness]” of the covered sun, and their innocence would be “drench[ed],” covered, in water. Rossetti then asks, “if we lost our way what should we do?”, reinforcing the idea that, if their innocent “way[s]” were to be lost, and “drench[ed],” or, if they gave into temptation, likely through the enjoyment of previously discussed sexual pleasures and satisfaction, the once innocent girls would not what to “do.” Through Rossetti’s depiction of her character’s plea, and her emphasis on weather, of which she presents in a manner that suggests the consequences of giving into temptation, it appears that Rossetti’s own repressed sexual feelings are presenting themselves, implicitly, through her writing.

Apple4

(If we lose our way, clouds may gather, and we may be drenched in darkness. Wallpaper Up. Web.)

Rossetti’s repressed sexual feelings continue to implicitly present themselves through her writing. While Lizzie encounters the Goblins, Rossetti writes, “Tho’ the goblins cuffed and caught her, / Coaxed and fought her, / Bullied and besought her, / Scratched her, pinched her black as ink, / Kicked and knocked her, / Mauled and mocked her”(Rossetti 1505). Here, Rossetti depicts that her female character is “cuffed,” which limits her mobility, which is often used in certain sexual fetishes, blatantly suggesting that Rossetti’s repressed sexual feelings are boiling to the surface. Rossetti then depicts that her female character is “caught,” which serves to objectify her, depicting that she is under the control and restrain of the “goblin” men. Rossetti then focuses heavily upon movements and verbs, as she emphasizes several words that describe action. Using these words, Rossetti appears to depict that the goblin men are forcing themselves upon Lizzie, and that the creatures are treating Rossetti’s female character as though she were an object, to be acted upon, by the goblins, against her will. While Rossetti may have intended to write an innocent scene regarding a child’s interaction with goblin men, by depicting that the goblins are forcing themselves upon Lizzie, who is “cuffed,” and restrained, in very physical manners, it appears that Rossetti’s own implicit sexual feelings and desires are presenting themselves, through her writing.

Rossetti continues to implicitly express her own repressed sexual feelings through her story, as she depicts interactions with the “mouth” of her female character. As Lizzie refuses the Goblin’s forceful advances, Rossetti writes, Lizzie uttered not a word; / Would not open lip from lip / Lest they should cram a mouthful in”(Rossetti 1505). Here, Rossetti uses words that signify physical movements, such as “cram,” and “lodge,” which represent actions, specifically insertion, which appears to further symbolize penetration, in this piece. Rossetti reinforces these symbols of penetration by writing that Lizzie “Would not open lip from lip,” with “lip,” appearing to represent, and symbolize, female sexual organs, specifically the vagina. Rossetti depicts her symbols of penetration by writing, “Lest they should cram a mouthful in.” The use of the word “in” further emphasizes the theme of penetration, and Rossetti’s use of the word “cram” suggests that “they,” the goblin men, are forcibly attempting to penetrate Lizzi, with a “mouthful” of their own object(s). Once again, Rossetti depicts “mouth[ful]s,” suggesting that her female character is being subjected to oral penetration, by the goblins, and her female character’s “mouth,” is an object that the goblins are attempting to physically “cram” their items within. In this way, Rossetti’s repressed feelings, of reproduction, and of oral intercourse, appear to present themselves, through her writing.

Biting an apple

(“Lest they should cram a mouthful in.” Pure Devotion. Web.

Rossetti’s repressed sexual feelings appear to present themselves, as she uses sexualized language, sensations, and gestures, in her writing. While the goblins finish physically forcing themselves upon Lizzie, Rossetti writes, “But laughed in heart to feel the drip / Of juice that syruped all her face, and lodged in dimples of her chin, / And streaked her neck which quaked like curd”(Rossetti 1505). Here, Rossetti depicts many aspects of liquids, and the sensations that they provide to her female character’s skin. Through her description of “juice that syruped all her face,” Rossetti suggests that her female character is experiencing rather thick fluids releasing themselves over “all her face,” which appears to depict that her face has been ejaculated upon, and she is able to “feel the drip” of the fluids. Furthermore, Rossetti claims that these liquids “lodged” themselves within her female character’s skin, which appears to symbolize seminal ejaculation, while further emphasizing Rossetti’s theme of penetration. Though Rossetti may claim to have written an innocent story about children and goblin creatures, through her use of language, which appears to depict penetration and ejaculation, it seems that Rossetti’s own repressed sexual feelings are presenting themselves, through her writing.

Rossetti’s repressed sexual feelings continue to implicitly present themselves through her writing. After Lizzie returns from her own encounter with the Goblins, and greets Laura, Rossetti writes, “Come and kiss me. / Never mind my bruises, / Hug me, kiss me, suck my juices / Squeezed from goblin fruits for you, / Goblin pulp and goblin dew. / Eat me, drink me, love me; / Laura, make much of me: / For your sake I have braved the glen / And had to do with goblin merchant men”(Rossetti 1506). Here, Rossetti further objectifies her female character, as she depicts her character’s desire to act upon her, in various physical ways. Rossetti sexualizes this scene, as the physical movements that she mentions all represent affectionate and sexual actions. Rossetti uses words such as “suck,” “Eat,” and “drink,” with regards to “me,” which further relate to oral acts of consumption, as though Rossetti is suggesting that her female character is an item for oral pleasure and satisfaction. Rossetti also continues to depict liquids, which were “Squeezed from goblin fruits,” which appears to further suggest ejaculation, as these thick fluids and “dew[s]” where physically “squeezed” from fertil goblin “fruits,” which seems to symbolize their own reproductive organs. Though she may claim to have written an innocent story about a child’s return from goblins, and their fruit, because of the language, which seems to depict physical movements, consumption, and oral satisfaction, Rossetti’s own implicit and repressed sexual feelings appear to present themselves, through her writing.

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(“Hug me, kiss me, suck my juices.” 123rf. Web.)

During the Victorian Period, individuals favored earnest behaviors, moral responsibility, and domestic propriety. The Victorian Temper emerged, which, while encouraging these behaviors, encouraged individuals to repress any and all notions of sexual reproduction. Because of the sheer force with which these reproductive feelings were repressed, some aspects of these ideas, though buried beneath the surface, appear to present themselves through the writing of the period. For instance, Christina Rossetti, though she may claim to write an innocent story, she depicts several sexual undertones in her piece, Goblin Market. In Rossetti’s work, she uses language to depict seemingly pure topics in a rather sexualized manner. Rossetti depicts “fruit[s],” which are all plump, round, juicy, and “unpecked,” which appear to symbolize the curvature and roundness of female bodies. Rossetti also describes physical movements, such as “suck[ing]” and “cram[ming],” which appears to symbolize sexual actions, along with means of oral satisfaction, and oral intercourse. Rossetti also places an emphasis on “juices,” elaborating upon their thickness, and “syrup[-like]” quialities, which appear to depict reproductive ejaculation. Finally, Rossetti elaborates upon the sensations that each of these items and actions provide, upon the “face” of her female character. Though Rossetti may claim to have written an innocent and imaginary story about children, her word choice, and use of language, all suggest sexual symbols and implications, suggesting to readers that Rossetti’s own repressed sexual feelings may be presenting themselves, through her writing.

To continue learning about the Victorian Period, please watch the video below.

 

Works Cited

123rf. Web. 

Adam and Eve Apple. Sargents Fine Art. Web. 

Lausanne Tourisme. Web. 
Medical News Today. Web. 
Pure Devotion. Web. 

Rossetti, Christina. “Goblin Market.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Volume E. Print.

Wallpaper Up. Web.