The poem "To the Ladies" by Mary,Lady Chudleigh, ends with the couplet, "Value yourselves, and men despise,/ You must be proud, if you'll be wise."Does the speaker of Christina Rossetti's "No...

The poem "To the Ladies" by Mary,Lady Chudleigh, ends with the couplet, "Value yourselves, and men despise,/ You must be proud, if you'll be wise."

Does the speaker of Christina Rossetti's "No Thank You, John" follow this advice? Explain the reasons for your answer.

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coachingcorner's profile pic

coachingcorner | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted on

In the poem 'No Thank You, John' by Christina Rosetti, I don't think the speaker needs any advice whatsoever on the prudent way of handling men! She seems a very self-contained and self-confident young lady indeed and is simply being honest about her feelings. She does not feel attracted to John and seems to think that she is saving them both a lot of heartache and time by her honesty. She even suggests the names of some ladies who may well be more interested. This seems to show that she has absolutely no interest whatsoever in what John decides to do. She does not need the advice from the first poem by Mary,Lady Chudleigh to:

'value yourselves'

- she seems to have healthy self-esteem already. She does not necessarily 'men despise' - she is just honest with them.

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I think that the speaker in Rosetti's poem has followed Chudleigh's overall advice, but I don't think she's followed every line.

To be specific, I don't think she necessarily "despises" men at least not if you use the word the way we do today.  She doesn't love John, but neither does she seem to have anything against men in general.

However, she does follow Chudleigh's overall advice, which is to value yourself rather than just being whatever a man wants to you to be.  She clearly values herself enough to say that her happiness is more important than John's and that she's better off on her own than with someone she doesn't love.

quddoos's profile pic

quddoos | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted on

Mary, Lady Chudleigh's poem, "To the Ladies" strongly argues that a woman should not give herself up to marriage, for when she does, the individual she was will cease to be: she will belong to her husband, subject to his every pleasure, displeasure or whim.

She begins her poem by stating—with direct purpose—"Wife and servant are the same." It takes little imagination to guess the direction for the rest of the poem. Freedom disappears behind matrimonial promises to "obey." The last two lines of the poem press the author's point home again, warning women that they must protect themselves and "despise" men if they are wise and wish to hold on to the essence of who they are without a husband.

Value your selves, and Men despise,
You must be proud, if you'll be wise.

In Christina Rossetti's poem, "No, Thank You, John," it seems that the speaker is able to follow the advice put forth in "To the Ladies."

The speaker makes no apologies to the ardent and persistent John. She states that she does not love him and has never told him that she did. She insists that there is nothing between them, though allows that other women might welcome his attentions.

The speaker seems to answer his accusation of being heartless, but she does so without apology, stating that he is crazy to ask for a love she does not feel for him.

I have no heart?--Perhaps I have not;

But then you're mad to take offence

That I don't give you what I have not got...

The speaker desperately tries to reason with John, offering a hand of friendship, but she refuses to back down or be intimidated by his tenacity.  She asks that they stop arguing or "playing games," and flatly refuses his offer of love.

In open treaty. Rise above

Quibbles and shuffling off and on:

Here's friendship for you if you like; but love,--

No, thank you, John.

The speaker in Rossetti's poem does, indeed, seem to be able to follow the advice given by Mary, Lady Chudleigh.

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