Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




John Ferns




This thesis explores the nuances Christina Rossetti perceives in the seasonal cycle, examining how she understands them to mirror the complexities she attributes to human life and to reflect her ambivalent feelings toward her own existence. By analyzing Rossetti's numerous portrayals of spring, summer, autumn and winter, I aim to penetrate some of the ambiguities of her life-experience ignored by many previous critics in their characterization of her life as a continual struggle between her religious convictions and instinctual desires or as a triumph over such a rift through the act of writing. Chapters one and two analyze her association of her family, in particular her mother, with the affirmative meanings she attributes to spring and summer. They also examine her linking of herself to the rejuvenating forces she sees inherent in those seasons, suggesting that, through this bond, she celebrates her relationship with the material world, developing an inner sense of physical and spiritual wellbeing. They continue to show how her distancing of herself from the destructive forces of the world she sees exemplified in the volatility of spring and summer thwarts the process that has the potential to make her a happier, more fulfilled person. Similarly, in chapters three and four, I discuss how her acknowledgement of the creative powers of autumn and winter reveal her embracing of them as an attempt to experience the latter stages of human life she conceives them to symbolize. I then argue that her regression to their more conventional associations with dying and death complicates her attempt, rooting her more firmly in the painful dimensions of existence she wants to avoid: loneliness, anxiety and despair.

McMaster University Library

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