What is the context surrounding the poem?
Rossetti’s religious beliefs-
Good Friday is a Holy Day commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus.
Attitudes towards women.
What are the main themes shown throughout the poem?
Extent of religious faith and the consequences/ rewards of it.
Hope given through religious faith.
How does Rossetti show these themes through the poem?
Uses euphemism for “stone” and “sheep” to demonstrate contrast between the sporadic and steadfast believer- the ‘stone’ will be lifeless and unfeeling, unable to experience rejuvenation in Jesus. The ‘sheep’ however is suggestive of nurturing and life as a reward for true faith.
Title of ‘Good Friday’ suggests rejuvenation = hope. Shown especially within last stanza. Omnibenevolence. Rossetti expresses a hope and faith within this rejuvenation which allows the poem to be more emotionally expressive as opposed to a harsh analysis of faith.
What ideas are suggested through Rossetti’s use of imagery?
Imbalance throughout the poem reflects Rossetti’s current tumultuous and pensive internal state, and allows her to question her relationship with God.
Sudden change in imagery used to emphasize the hope and wonder of the resurrection and acts as a conclusion to answer Rossetti’s questions.
How are these images presented throughout the poem?
Rossetti focuses on the human, not divine aspect of Jesus. Rossetti continually references images of human pain and loss such as Christ’s ‘blood’, Peter’s ‘bitter tears’ and the Sun and Moon ‘hiding their faces’- Personification and human, physical images do not seemingly present Christ as divine. Rossetti questions if she truly sees Christ as a close, human associate or a distant divine being. She does not initially reach a conclusion but addresses God directly for guidance.
Caesura is used in ‘Yet give not o’er…’ as imagery becomes suddenly positive. Such positivity reflects conclusion and her own security in the wonder and positivity of Christ’s love and resurrection. Rossetti’s questions cease and we are left with an image of hope through faith.
What structural images are used by Rossetti throughout the poem?
Rossetti’s sudden epiphany and realisation as to God’s benevolence.
Continuous testing and questioning of faith seen through the course of one’s life.
How are these structural ideas shown throughout the poem?
Use of punctuation- ‘A horror of great darkness at broad noon- I, only I.’ = Dash suggests possible feeling of isolation for Rossetti, supported by repetition of ‘I’. Full stop gives sense of finality (contrasts previous enjambment). Combination of following caesura ‘yet give not o’er’ = either punctuation and caesura highlight sudden nature of Rossetti’s epiphany, or to show Rossetti’s possible insecurity due to the faith- testing events of her own life.
External rhyme scheme contrasts questioning and rejuvenation. First two stanzas = ABBA scheme (questioning). Final two stanzas = ABAB scheme (order and spiritual rejuvenation). Contrast makes rejuvenation seem more poignant and significant.
How does (Myra) Reynolds interpret the poem?
“…passionate outcry against the easy indifference with which man can think of the Christ…”
Which other poems link to ‘Good Friday’ through the theme of religion and doubt?
Twice; Shut out.
Which poems link to ‘Good Friday’ through the theme of realisation?
Goblin Market; Maude Clare.