An Echo for Love

In Christina Rossetti’s poem, Echo, the title alone attributes a variety of complementary meanings that enhance the poem’s meaning.

First, in exploring the intimate poem, it is concluded that the speaker dreams of a lover she has lost to death. Initially, the most striking things about the poem are that it is a lyrical piece and has many instances of alliteration. Together, these two literary tools offer a sense of strong emotions and suggest that the love that the speaker is talking about means a great deal to her. For instance, the speaker talks about “sunlight on a stream…soft rounded cheeks…how sweet, too sweet, too bittersweet.” (28, 1-7) The speaker’s use of alliteration in the first stanza creates the imagery of euphoric love that, at times, is too hard to remember and live without.

Additionally, the speaker uses anaphora to create a sense of longing. She says phrases such as “Come back to me in tears…come to me in dreams…come back to me.” (28, 5-18). This repetition creates desperation for the love of her life who is forever in all parts of her memory. The longing is so strong that the speaker uses exclamatory words such as “O” to convey the yearning in the first two stanzas.

Moreover, it is very apparent that there is the imagery of the divine and spirits. The speaker says that her love is in “paradise”, which can be translated to mean heaven, which also stands as a metaphor for death. In addition, the mentioning of words such as “soul”, “breath” and “pulse” are all spiritual descriptors that create the imagery for her only contact to be with her love in spirit, as he no longer exists in the flesh to breathe and have his loving heartbeat next to her.

Now, understanding the longing, the repetitive dreams, and the presence of spiritual references, the title offers so much more. In one instance, Echo quite literally means an echo. Her desire for him to come back to her is nothing more than an echo, something that will never change. In another instance, the title is a metaphor for the dreams that the speaker will continue to have, but there is nothing she can do to get any more comfort from her lover than to dream up sweet memories of him. Lastly, the title Echo may stand as a reference to the Greek myth of Narcissus and Echo, where Echo is rejected by Narcissus and left to long for his love. This relates to the speaker’s soul which is situated in a state of eternal longing. Usually, the titles of poems tend to be referenced in the poem itself, however, this title is almost a part of the story. It is multidimensional and offers much meaning to the various messages the speaker relays throughout the poem.

Sex and Power

After indulging in Stoker’s Dracula, I have come to the conclusion that Stoker believes Victorian women are unnaturally powerful. Stoker develops this idea through the “thrilling and repulsive” ways in which the three vampire women at Dracula’s Castle sensually desire to consume Johnathan’s blood (45). One of the three women was described as sensually moving “like an animal” (Stoker 45). This imagery suggests that the sex appeal of women is strong enough to make honest men, like Johnathan, desire them. It renders ‘strong’ men powerless, while at the same time villanizing these women for this unpure and demoralizing effect they have on men.

In addition to the power that sex grants Victorian women, Dracula himself represents the highest level of sexual power. His sex appeal is the most unnatural and controlling. With Dracula, Stoker makes the claim that powerful Victorian men see women as objects and use them to their desires. Mina finds something “long and black, bending over the half-reclining white figure” (Stoker 101). Here, Mina seems to be oblivious to the sexual assault by Dracula on Lucy. After this initial occurrence, Lucy seems to worsen in health when Dracula visits her in the nights that pass. The more he sees her, the greater her neck scar gets in injury, and the more “ill” she appears. However, when she cannot return to him, Lucy begins to heal. Here, Stoker suggests that in addition to the claim that powerful Victorian men see no need for consent, once sexually ‘liberated’, women will become sexually inclined and filled with uncontrollable desire. Not only does Stoker acknowledge gender inequalities, but he reveals that Victorian women are powerful only when they can bend ‘honest’ and ‘pure’ men to their will, and even then, this is evil and unnatural.

Tension and Insanity

The passage I chose is on pages 275-273 of chapter 11, volume II. In this passage, Lucy tries to convince Alicia that Robert is “mad” after accusing Lucy of killing George. This passage is especially important because it develops the theme of appearances and deception and sensation literature. Lucy begins by repeatedly labeling Robert as “eccentric.” As she further develops that idea to Alicia, she changes the label to “mad.” Lucy convinces Alicia that Robert is crazy and suggests that Sir Audley would believe anything that she tells him. Not only does Lucy remove the spotlight off her secrets, but she tricks Alicia and intends to use her pull on her husband to ruin the reputation and credibility of Robert. This suggests that appearances are integral in the Victorian era. It also shows how easy it is to utilize misunderstandings of mental health to create an untruthful perception of others in the Victorian era. All of this is important because it is revealing of Lucy’s lack of morals. She is willing to use her charm over Sir Audley to portray a sane family member as mentally unwell to protect herself. Furthermore, Lucy’s intense response to the accusations suggests that there is some truth to them. This means it is likely that Lucy indeed has a history with George Talboys. We can reasonably speculate that Lucy was likely married to him, however, there is yet to be enough information regarding the accusations that she killed him. Moreover, outward appearances in comparison to limited knowledge of the inner thoughts and pasts of characters have proven to be an integral part of sensation novels as it allows for tension and reader speculation.

Lady Audly’s Secret

The passage I selected begins with “I do not think that throughout his courtship the baronet once calculated upon his wealth or his position as a strong reason for his success…” (13). There is the constant repetition of words that indicate that money is important in the victorian era and in the novel when concerning marriage and love. Furthermore, there is a noticeable repetition of words and phrases that are indicative of the patriarchy. The baronet had hoped that Lucy’s life had been one of “toil and dependence” (13). This suggests that family structures are very much important in the victorian era. This passage foreshadows the conflict to come between Lucy and Sir Michael Audley’s daughter because of the power struggle to become a lady of the house and thus household decision-maker. It is one of the few responsibilities women with status are able to achieve through marriage to a rich man.

Lucy wishes to “captivate a rich man” which entails she is likely in an unfavorable financial situation (13). In addition, there is very little known about Lucy Graham, thus there is a lot of mystery surrounding her intentions to marry a man that did not even initially interest her. Moreover, the apparent gender roles that Lucy must fill and take away from Audley’s daughter, in addition to the fincnacial drive, forshadow future conflict and jealousy between Lucy Gram and Audly’s daughter. There will also likely be scandals concerning Sir Audley given it seem that Lucy is only interested in the money and status, as well as, the fact that not much is known about her.