Cousin Kate Analysis

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The poem ‘Cousin Kate’ is written by Christina Rossetti in the 19th century. ‘The Choosing’ was written in the 20th century by Liz Lochhead. Both poems are about two girls who are equal, and how with the interference of a man and a decision they go in different directions of life. In ‘Cousin Kate’ betrayal is the theme, whereas, in ‘The Choosing’ there is more a sense of envy between the characters.

Both poems are similar. They consist of men, marriage, love and women. ‘Cousin Kate’ is a traditional narrative poem. It has been written in first person, narrated by ‘I’ using the personal pronoun. ‘I’ is the victim.

The poem is set out in quatrains so it has a regular structure. Each stanza has four lines and the poem also rhymes. ‘The Choosing’ has an irregular structure and it doesn’t rhyme on every stanza.

Rhythm is only used to emphasise the important parts of the poem. The structure of both poems can tell us when the poem was written. Both poems also differ from each other. One difference would be the title. The title ‘The Choosing’ tells us that a decision was made. ‘The’ is a definite article and ‘Choosing’ is a verb, which is a doing word. The purpose of a title is to give the reader an idea to what the poem could be about.

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Cousin Kate Poem Text

It has been used to mislead the reader, it gives you false expectations until you meet the point that the title is relating to in the poem. “And wonder when the choices got made we don’t remember making. ” This tells us that a choice was made, but ‘I’ or Mary didn’t decide. The choice was made by Mary’s father, they moved to a different home. This distanced ‘I’ and Mary’s friendship so they took different paths of life. The writer has used caesuras to once again emphasise important parts of the poem. The title ‘Cousin Kate’ is a proper noun because it is a name.

In this poem the writer has used oxymoron to contrast both parts of ‘Is’ life. “To lead a shameless shameful life. ” This oxymoron tells us that ‘Is’ life is shameless and shameful, she is trying to express the difference of her present life with her past life. Her past life was shameless because she was an ordinary cottage maiden living an ordinary life, until the Lord found her out and filled her heart with care. Her present life is shameful because she has lost her virginity before marriage. In the 19th century this was considered serious. Women were humiliated and thrown out of their homes, it was a shameful life.

In ‘Cousin Kate’ ‘I’ was a cottage maiden along with her cousin Kate. “Contented with my cottage mates. ” This phrase tells us that ‘I’ was better off in her past life before the Lord interfered. She wasn’t mindful, but she was fair. The Lord took advantage of ‘Is’ beauty. He lured her to his palace home and used her as his plaything. ‘I’ however, was unable to see the Lord’s true colours; she may have truly loved the Lord until she found out about his affair with her cousin Kate. “He changed me like a glove. ” This simile has been used to emphasise how easy it was for the Lord to change ‘Is’ way of thinking.

He tricked her into loving him and he used her to make himself look good to the public. When he was satisfied with her, he became bored and then he noticed Kate. ‘I’ was cast by. This also tells us that the 19th century had a patriarchal society. Men had to be the boss; only men were permitted to have a job. Women were expected to stay home and take care of their children. Only men were allowed to divorce their wives. “The neighbours call you good and pure, call me an outcast thing. ” ‘I’ is disgraced; she is pointed at and humiliated. Nevertheless, she has something the Lord would give lands for; she has the Lord’s fair-haired son.

Her shame, but her pride and a gift that Kate can never give the Lord. In ‘The Choosing’ ‘I’ and Mary are equal and young. “With the same coloured ribbons in mouse coloured hair. ” This tells us that they are young because they wear ribbons on their mouse coloured hair. The word mouse is a synonym to a light brown colour. Synonyms are used to include other words with the same meaning. It also tells us that they are equal and normal average girls. Both girls were first equal and equally proud. “We curtseyed to the Lady Councillor for copies of Collins’ Children’s Classics. ” This tells us that both girls were equally clever.

The writer has used an alliteration to slow down the rhythm and make it stand out to show how important education was then. However, ‘I’ had always felt a bit jealous of Mary. “And my terrible fear of her superiority at sums. ” This tells us that Mary was a little better at Maths than ‘I’. This frightened ‘I’ a little because Mary would become better than her so they would no longer be equal anymore. ‘I’ felt jealous. The writer has also used ‘and’, a conjunction to show ‘Is’ agony and feelings of envy for Mary. “Ten years later on a Saturday- I am coming home from the library.

This tells us that there is a change in time, it is the present tense. It also tells us that she wants to learn and get a good job. She has just come back from the library, she may have been studying there, and she is determined not to go back to the old same life. She wants to see the difference and change in an educated life from an ordinary life. In ‘Cousin Kate’ Kate is described as ‘good’ and ‘pure’. They are positive adjectives because they describe a person in a good way. Kate is described this way because she is still a virgin. ‘I’ on the other hand is pregnant with the Lord’s baby.

Kate grew fairer than ‘I’. The Lord chose Kate while ‘I’ was cast by. “He bound you with his ring. ” This tells us that the Lord proposed to Kate. The word ‘bound’ is a verb; the writer has used this verb because she wants to express to the reader that Kate is restricted from her freedom, she is trapped in his clutches, and there’s no escape. This tells us that in the 19th century women were controlled by men, and they were only to do as they were told. “Your love was writ in sand. ” This is a metaphor used to explain to the reader that Kate’s love for the Lord is false. Kate is interested in the Lords’ money.

Her love can wash away like sand. Kate may be good and pure, but under her pretty face lays greed and selfishness. In ‘The Choosing’ Mary is a quiet character. “I don’t know exactly why they moved, but anyway they went. ” “Something about a three-apartment and cheaper rent. ” Rhythm is used in these two phrases because this is where the choice gets made. It has to stand out to enable the reader to notice. This tells us that Mary’s father may have had financial difficulties or lost his job so they had to move homes. This also tells us that Mary may have had to live her life uneducated because her father couldn’t afford it.

It is Mary’s father who makes the decision of their lives. Mary is a simple and ordinary schoolgirl, but she may have been beautiful to find a handsome husband. “Sitting near me on the bus, Mary with a husband who is tall, curly haired, has eyes for no one else but Mary. ” This sentence has a hurenthasis caesura. It plainly states that Mary’s husband is devoted to her. The adjectives used in this sentence to describe Mary’s husband tell us that he is a handsome and good-looking man. This makes ‘I’ feel jealous of Mary when she sees her on the bus.

One other thing that makes ‘I’ feel envious is when she realises that Mary is pregnant. Her arms are round the full-shaped vase that is her body. ” This is a metaphor that has been used to tell the reader that Mary is pregnant so she is happy and settled in her marriage. This tells us that in the 20th century women were less controlled by men. Men were beginning to take relationships seriously. The Lord in ‘Cousin Kate’ praised ‘Is’ flaxen hair to ensure her that he could be trusted. She fell for the Lord’s words, but her trust was betrayed after the Lord left her for another women. “He wore me like a silken knot. ” This simile tells us that the Lord found it easy to gain ‘Is’ trust.

However, the Lord cannot completely remove ‘I’ from his life because she has his son. The Lord needs an heir so he would give lands for one. Mary’s father in ‘The Choosing’ is in a working class situation. He has been described in a way to make him sound strict. “Mary’s father, mufflered, contrasting strangely with the elegant greyhounds by his side. ” This tells us that he isn’t a very friendly father. He doesn’t believe in high-school education especially for girls so he is sexually double standard and very stereotypical about girls. It was because of his decisions Mary and ‘I’ took different paths of life.

In conclusion, both poems are similar because they consist of women and women’s role. Both poems have been written by women. In the 19th century women were expected to get married before they become pregnant. ‘I’ disobeyed this traditional rule and so she got punished for it. In ‘The Choosing’ ‘I’ became jealous of her childhood friend. In the 20th century women were free, they were permitted to work and learn. There was no rush in marriage. The difference is the fact that in both poems the society is different, it is better in the 20th century. Women are included as useful.

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Cousin Kate Analysis. (2019, Dec 07). Retrieved from

Cousin Kate Analysis
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