Christina Rossetti Questions and Answers

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How does "In An Artist's Studio" by Christina Rossetti convey the message of inequality between men and women in the Victorian era?

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Rosetti's poem conveys not merely the unequal treatment of men and women, but how men actively objectify and dehumanize women. Under the yoke of the "male gaze" (the ogling and scrutiny of women by men), women are made into objects and in the process, lose their humanity. This logically includes their human rights.

Consider the "artist" in Rosetti's poem. While he creates the women in these paintings, he also "feeds upon her face by day and night." The artist did not create women in his art to appreciate or elevate them, but to reduce them to a few aesthetic elements and consume them. Notice Rosetti's use of diction: the man does not simply "see" the painting, but "feeds" upon the subject.

Yet art, of course, is meant to be consumed. So how do we know that the artist objectifies his female subjects? Rosetti tells us plain as day, from the very beginning of the poem: "One face looks out from all his canvasses, / One selfsame figure sits or walks or leans."

Though the artist creates many...

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