Would you please take a hint John

The poem “No, Thank you, John” by Christina Rosetti, shows the point of view of a woman who is refusing a man who continues to romantically pursue her. The narrator of the poem is very direct to this man John in saying that she is not interested in him at all. She says he may have a better chance with other women saying “I dare say Meg or Moll would take pity upon you if you’d ask: And pray you don’t remain single for my sake Who can’t perform that task”. In these lines, the woman not only begs him to try for other women, but also informs him that she cannot and will not return any of his romantic affection. This stanza really shows the woman’s tone toward John and gives the reader the energy that she is actually annoyed by the continued interest from John. She continues, saying “Let bygones be bygones: Don’t call me false, who owed not to be true: I’d rather answer “No” to fifty Johns Than answer “Yes” to you”. The point of view in this poem is very important because it allows the reader to get insight of the woman’s true thoughts. While this stanza seems pretty harsh, the message is very clear. She is NOT interested in John and never will be. The woman finishes off the poem with “Here’s friendship for you if you like; but love,- No, thank you, John”. I really enjoy the title of the poem being used in the final line of the poem and the effect of the line. If none of the other rejections sank in, that one has to. 

This poem is truly unique. The very direct rejection of a man is not something I have seen in poetry before, and it directly challenges the classic love poem. Usually a love poem shows the point of view of a man who is wounded and trying so very hard to persuade their love to want them back. “No, Thank you, John” is not only the opposite of that stereotypical love poem, but also allows for the woman to give her side and show that this type of resilient and stubborn man is not the victim, but rather an annoyance. This poem shows a woman who is so tired of being pursued by the same man and is running out of ways to say no. The importance of this poem is to show that it is not cute for a man to continue to try like this, and rather that this is straight up harassment. During this time period, this type of thinking was certainly not the standard – and even today, while it is more recognized, there are still many women who have to deal with this. This poem is important because it shows the man is not the victim in this scenario, but rather the aggressor. The final line shows the woman being very strong-minded, not only due to her ability to be immovable in her rejection, but also due to the way she was able to stay respectful in her final refusal – a subtle comment on societal gender roles and normities.

4 thoughts on “Would you please take a hint John”

  1. I loved your analysis of this piece and I completely agree. I think it’s really interesting how vehement the voice of this poem is in rejecting a man who so clearly has feelings for them because, as you said, it is not consistent with the societal views on the time period. I am curious if you have thought about this poem in the context of another of Rosetti’s poems, “The Triad”. I ask this because in “The Triad” two out of the three women mentioned are pining for the kind of affection being showed to the poetic voice of “No Thank You John” and considering that they were written by the same woman-what does that say about her true views on relationship norms during the Victorian era?

  2. I absolutely agree that this poem is incredibly important because of its portrayal of a woman explicitly telling a man “No, stop asking, leave me alone”. It is an especially fascinating juxtaposition with Lucy and Mina in Dracula. Lucy wants to marry three men so that she does not have to say no to them (and then ends up “marrying” a fourth). Mina, on the other hand, is firmly set in her engagement/marriage to Jonathan; if the speaker in “No Thank You, John” and Lucy were two opposite ends of a spectrum, Mina is in the center, where every good Victorian woman should lie.

  3. I find your take on this poem to be very fascinating. The poem shows women in a different light than the previous works we have read so far. Instead of portraying women as demure and submissive to men, it has the woman standing up for herself and not following what was expected of Victorian women as she does not submit to the will of John. Also, the poem does not show the woman facing consequences for breaking the mold of a typical Victorian woman. For example, in “Goblin Market”, when Laura gives into temptation and eats the fruit from the goblins, she starts to wither away. I see her withering away as a metaphor for what would happen to women if they strayed away from the set standards for women. However, in “No, Thank You, John”, this does not happen the narrator, signaling that perhaps there is a possibility for a woman to break norms and remain unharmed.

  4. I love this poem and I agree with everything you had to say in your blog post. In a time period where men got away with a lot more, could dictate things, and sadly impose themselves on women a lot, it is liberating and satisfying to see this full-on rejection play out. I also like how you pointed out the sheer annoyance the woman has from being harassed, and how unfortunately stalking behavior like this still definitely happens.

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