Almost all the Victorian authors we have read challenge gender roles. Bram Stoker allowed Dracula to be the most powerful character in his story, but also painted him as one of the most feminine characters, Mary Elizabeth Braddon made her most beautiful character, Lady Audley, the most treacherous one, and finally Christina Rossetti, who in No Thank You John addressed the idea of saying no to a marriage, so that someone may wait for love. While these three authors may have presented new ideas to challenge Victorian social norms, they all reinstall the normal with their endings or a less radical piece. As I mentioned in my former post “Beating the ’95 Bulls Without Michael Jordan” Stoker allowed the finally battle of Dracula to be fought without Count Dracula, Mary Elizabeth Braddon kills Lady Audley, and writes a short chapter reassuring her readers that the story was fictional and apologizing for any fright she may have given them, lastly Christina Rossetti wrote less radical poems too, ones that didn’t seem to challenge any Victorian Norms like “A Triad”.
A Triad expresses 3 different women, who are character types of how women could live their lives and view marriage. Rossetti describes the first women in a lustily manner. With lines like “Crimson, with cheeks and bosom in a glow” here she is described as a whore, the crimson red represents an impurity, similar to the voluptuous red lips, Lucy and the three female vampires had in Stoker’s Dracula. The second woman is the ideal Victorian lady. She is described as singing “soft and smooth as snow” a direct contrast to the first lady, the second is compared to white snow to show how pure and innocent she is. The third singer married but married the wrong person and now lives desolate life. This poem does not give Victorian women many freedoms, if they choose to live a life expressive life of any kind they will end up dead like the first woman. They could strive to be like the perfect second women, but if they choose the wrong husband by they may end up as a lonely spinster. By giving the audience such bleak options Rossetti may be pointing out how unfair women’s choices are, but overall I find this to be a poem to calm the masses. Rossetti presents no radical claims she rather states the truth.