The poem ‘Cousin Kate’ is about a young cottage maiden who falls pregnant b the ‘Lord of the manor’, she thought he loved her but he didn’t and when he found out she was pregnant he ‘changed [her] like a glove’, now he is marrying her cousin, (Kate) ‘bound you with his ring’ and she is left with no’ one because as she pregnant and not married no-one wants to speak to her and everyone where she lives thinks she disgusting an ‘unclean thing’ The poem is written by Christina Rossetti and is set in the 19th century; the setting is a small plantation in a small village.
The main themes within ‘Cousin Kate’ are love and relationships and how people can get hurt and let down easily by the other person. The cottage maiden’s love I think was nai?? ve but I think she did truly love him, he obviously didn’t feel the same way and used her for what he could get from her, and he succeeded, he took he virginity from her and thought nothing of ending the relationship with the cottage maiden even though (I think) she was a young innocent girl.
The relationship between ‘Cousin Kate’ and the Lord is true love, he has finally realized he cannot keep getting young girls into trouble and must be serious about Kate if he is prepared to marry her and as Kate is a ‘good and pure’ girl it is even better. Their love is described by the Cottage Maiden as being ‘writ in sand’. I think that one of the messages in this poems was at this time is that society thought men were better than women and had more rights than women we can see this in the poem because the lord was just able to pick who he wanted and change the last girl ‘like a glove’.
The lord abuses his power because he knows that the women cannot refuse him because they work for him and would not refuse him because he is wealthy and they are living in a time of bad poverty. The cottage maiden is feeling very hurt and bitter not only towards the Lord but also to her Cousin Kate as they are related and she was with the lord first and is carrying his child.
Cousin Kate is written in the first person tense- from the point of view of the cottage maiden; therefore it allows her to express a number of opinions and feelings. Like I said above the mood of the poems is a very angry and bitter one, feelings are shown by the use of images such as the cottage maiden says she, ‘might have been a dove’ if she had not fallen for the advances of the lord. She uses the image of the dove in order to allude to her innocence.
The similes in the poem work well in expressing the cottage maiden’s emotions and help to create a an angry and sad mood to the poem, some examples of these similes are ‘he wore me like a silken knot’ this sentence links the treatment of the cottage maiden with treatment of discarded clothing, ‘he changed me like a glove’ this sentence shows how quickly and easily the Lord ‘dumped’ the Cottage maiden for her cousin.
In Cousin Kate we learn about a male character known as the ‘Lord’, we do not know a lot about him except that he is a very wealthy man ‘palace home’, when reading the poem I instantly thought that he was hard, cruel and had, had lots of girlfriends but no where in the poem does it say this I think Christina Rossetti uses a certain language when writing about the lord to make use feel this.
He treats the cottage Maiden unfairly, she didn’t get herself pregnant on purpose it was a much his fault as it was hers, so instead of leaving her to be a single parent and bring the child up on her own he should take some responsibility and help her instead of ignoring her and marrying her cousin! The lord has power over women, in particular he uses his wealth and charm to seduce the cottage maiden.
Christina Rossetti makes us dislike the lord by using sentences such as ‘he lured me’ this sentence makes him sound like a ‘dirty, old man’ or a ‘creep’, ‘he chose you and cast me by’ this sentence shows that once he had, had his ‘wicked way’ with the woman he would just disregard her and pick another one. The poem has a female as the central character, we don’t know her name but we do know that she works as a cottage maiden and has a lord as her boss. She is presented to be a young and nai?? ve women.
I think that she is young because of things that describe her life ‘contented with my cottage mates’ ‘not mindful I was fair’ she fell in love with the lord but he used her, after she found out she was pregnant but he wants nothing to do with her or the child, she hates him for this ‘I would spit in his face’ but I think she is still in love with him, she is not only angry at the way he’s treated her but she is also very hurt. She thought he loved her back that’s why she is so heartbroken ‘ my love was true’.
The cottage maiden is also confused she wants to know why he used and abused her ‘why did the great lord find me out, to fill my heart with care? ‘ she wants some simple answers to why she has been so badly treated. Its not only the Lord that has treated her badly because she is pregnant and not married the people in the village are disgraced ‘ the neighbors call me the unclean thing’. In the ‘olden days’ if you were not married and fell pregnant or single and found out that you were pregnant people were appalled, your family would have been ashamed of you and may even have disowned you!
So a single parents fate was they would probably have stayed single because people were so disgusted with them, not had many friends and they would have been very poor. The cottage maiden in my opinion is a strong person, obviously she is hurt and upset but she doesn’t seem to let what people think about her upset her a lot, she knows that one day the lord will want her child ‘to wear his coronet’ so she is just waiting for that time.
In conclusion, we can see that the poem has a good meaning it maybe sad the beginning as the cottage maiden was treated so cruelly and badly by the lord but in but in the end the cottage maiden will get what she deserves because she knows that her cousin Kate cannot have children so the lord will eventually (maybe) want to marry the cottage maiden because she has a child by him and he will want a son to carry on his family name and business.
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