Friendzone in the 19th century

Christina Rossetti’s poem “No, Thank You, John” indeed stands as a remarkable piece that can be seen as ahead of its time, particularly in its nuanced exploration of romantic rejection and the concept of the “friendzone.” Although written in the Victorian era, the poem transcends its time by addressing the complexities of relationships and the importance of clear communication.

The poem’s rejection is beautifully put, as Rossetti delicately navigates the delicate balance between asserting her independence and expressing gratitude for the friendship offered by John. The lines “Let us strike hands as hearty friends; /No more, no less: and friendship’s good: /Only don’t keep in view ulterior ends, /And points not understood” epitomize this sentiment. In these lines, Rossetti articulates the desire for a genuine and uncomplicated friendship without the burden of unspoken expectations or hidden motives. This foresight is particularly striking when considering the contemporary discourse around the “friendzone,” a term that gained prominence in the 21st century to describe a situation where one person desires a romantic relationship while the other only seeks friendship. Rossetti’s emphasis on friendship as a valuable and self-contained relationship, “and friendship’s good,” challenges the societal norms of her time, where romantic entanglements were often prioritized over platonic connections. Her insistence on not keeping “in view ulterior ends” aligns with the modern understanding that relationships should be built on mutual respect and transparency.

In this way, “No, Thank You, John” anticipates the evolving discussions around relationships, consent, and the importance of clear communication. Rossetti’s rejection is not just a dismissal but a call for mutual understanding and a rejection of societal expectations that may force individuals into roles they are not comfortable with. The poem’s enduring relevance lies in its timeless portrayal of the complexities of human connections, making it a work that transcends its Victorian origins and resonates with contemporary discussions on relationships and boundaries.

The lady of Shalott: a Greek tragedy

The Lady of Shalott, a poetic creation by Alfred Lord Tennyson, bears intriguing resemblances to various Greek tragedy characters, thereby weaving a tapestry of shared themes and poignant narratives.

The thematic resonance between the Lady of Shalott and Penelope from Homer’s Odyssey is unmistakable, particularly in their shared activity of weaving. The act of weaving serves as a metaphor for their lives, representing a form of passive engagement with the world while encapsulating the isolation and yearning each woman experiences. In Tennyson’s poem, the Lady is described as weaving a magic web in her tower, isolated from the external world. Her weaving is not a mere pastime but a fundamental aspect of her existence, dictated by the curse that binds her. Similarly, Penelope, during Odysseus’s prolonged absence, weaves and unweaves a shroud for her father-in-law, Laertes. This act is both a symbol of her fidelity and a means of delaying remarriage, reflecting her own form of isolation. Lines from “The Lady of Shalott” emphasize the repetitiveness of the Lady’s weaving, underscoring the monotony of her existence: “No time hath she to sport and play: /A charmed web she weaves alway. /A curse is on her, if she stay/ Her weaving, either night or day, /To look down to Camelot.” The act of weaving becomes a ritualistic, almost mechanical, endeavor that defines her secluded life. Similarly, in the Odyssey, Penelope’s weaving is a constant, laborious activity. Homer describes her weaving and unweaving the shroud, symbolizing the passage of time and the hope that Odysseus will return. The repetitive nature of this act reflects Penelope’s own sense of isolation and longing: “She set up a great tambour frame in her room, and began to work on an enormous piece of fine needlework.” In both cases, weaving becomes a symbolic expression of longing and isolation. The Lady and Penelope are tethered to their respective spaces, engaged in repetitive tasks that serve as both a distraction and a form of connection to the world outside. The act of weaving, in these instances, transcends mere craftsmanship; it becomes a poignant expression of the characters’ internal struggles and unfulfilled desires.

Furthermore, the Lady’s fate resonates with the myth of Echo and Narcissus. In the myth, Echo is cursed to only repeat the words of others, echoing the voices around her. Similarly, the Lady is under a curse that forces her to weave ceaselessly without directly experiencing the external world. Both characters are trapped in a form of isolation, yearning for a connection that seems elusive. The Lady of Shalott’s narrative also echoes the tragic fate of characters like Oedipus or Antigone from Greek tragedies. Oedipus, unwittingly fulfilling a prophecy that leads to his downfall, and Antigone, defying societal norms for the sake of her convictions, share a tragic inevitability with the Lady. The Lady’s fate is preordained by the curse, and her attempt to break free from it ultimately results in tragedy. Moreover, the theme of forbidden observation in the Lady’s story reflects the tragic consequences of transgressing divine laws in Greek mythology.

In weaving these threads, it becomes evident that the Lady of Shalott encapsulates the essence of Greek tragedy: a convergence of fate, isolation, and the poignant yearning for a connection that seems forever out of reach. Through these parallels, Tennyson weaves a narrative that transcends time and culture, resonating with the universal human experience encapsulated in both Victorian and ancient Greek literature.

One Last Kiss

“And now, my child, you may kiss her. Kiss her dead lips if you will, as she would have you to, if for her to choose”. The kiss, traditionally a symbol of romantic love and physical desire, here takes on an unconventional and eerie aspect. It is a macabre display of Arthur’s affection for Lucy, transcending the boundary between life and death. This eroticized connection highlights the allure of the vampire mythology, where sensuality and danger are closely intertwined. Throughout the novel, the idea of a vampire’s kiss is often associated with both pleasure and peril, adding a layer of forbidden desire to the narrative.

At the same time, the passage underscores the religious aspect of the story. Van Helsing’s words infuse the scene with spiritual symbolism. The contrast between “the devil’s Un-Dead” and “God’s true dead” speaks to the battle between the forces of darkness and those of divine purity. The act of kissing Lucy’s “dead lips” can be seen as a form of religious sacrament, where Arthur is making a final connection with his beloved, almost as if he is participating in a last rite. This moment embodies the Christian notion of redemption and resurrection, where Lucy’s soul is released from the curse of vampirism and welcomed by God. The passage reflects the overarching theme of salvation and the triumph of faith over evil.

The convergence of eroticism and religion in this passage adds depth to the narrative. It underscores the idea that the vampire myth is not just about horror and bloodlust but also about the allure of forbidden desires. It portrays the human struggle between earthly passions and spiritual salvation. In “Dracula,” the boundaries between the sacred and the profane are blurred, and the kiss, which can be a symbol of both eroticism and religious devotion, serves as a powerful focal point for these complex themes. The passage encapsulates the novel’s exploration of the human psyche, where the boundaries between desire and morality are tested, and where love, lust, and spirituality intermingle in a captivating and thought-provoking way.


“Snap goes our third thread, and we end where we began,” said he. “The cunning rascal! He knew our number, knew that Sir Henry Baskerville had consulted me, spotted who I was in Regent Street, conjectured that I had got the number of the cab and would lay my hands on the driver, and so sent back this audacious message. I tell you, Watson, this time we have got a foeman who is worthy of our steel. I’ve been checkmated in London. I can only wish you better luck in Devonshire. But I’m not easy in my mind about it.”

“About what?”

“About sending you. It’s an ugly business, Watson, an ugly dangerous business, and the more I see of it the less I like it. Yes, my dear fellow, you may laugh, but I give you my word that I shall be very glad to have you back safe and sound in Baker Street once more.”

(Doyle chapter 5)


In the first five chapters of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” readers find themselves into the enigmatic world of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson. This story follows the duo as they confront a strange case that revolves around the eerie legend of the Baskerville curse, a ghastly hound said to haunt the family. I thought the passage in question was captivating, especially because we are given an insight into Holmes’ mind which helps us understand his character even more. Sherlock Holmes is renowned for his remarkable intellect and keen sense of observation. However, what truly fascinates Holmes, is the prospect of facing a cunning and intelligent antagonist. In the text, Holmes’ exclamation, “The cunning rascal!” reveals his admiration for the adversary they are up against, this unveils how Holmes thrives on challenges that test the limits of his deductive abilities, and a worthy opponent excites his intellectual curiosity. This fascination goes beyond mere solving of cases; it’s a battle of wits that truly engages his mind. Holmes’ analysis of their opponent’s actions highlights his appreciation for the antagonist’s intelligence. The adversary not only deduced Holmes and Watson’s involvement but also anticipated their moves, such as tracking the cab and telling John Clayton “It might interest you to know that you have been driving Mr. Sherlock Holmes” because he knew Holmes would’ve tracked John down. This level of sophistication elevates the mystery and, in Holmes’ eyes, makes their adversary “worthy of our steel.”. The words used in this passage are quite well thought in my opinion: the term “checkmated”, of course, reflects Holmes’ recognition of defeat and demonstrates his respect for the adversary, but if you look at it from another point of view the meaning could take a turn. Any position in chess in which a player’s king is in check, and there is no way out, is known as a checkmate. The choice of this word is not casual: this is a game for Holmes, a sick game that he loves. I truly think this is what the passage is all about, how madly in love Holmes is with these mind games that stimulates his intellect. At the same time we find out Holmes’ unease about Watson’s involvement. Words like “ugly” and “dangerous” emphasize the risky nature of their work, but they also underscore the depth of their friendship, as Holmes expresses a genuine desire for Watson’s well-being.

Grieving George Talboys

Grieving George Talboys


“And so,” he muttered to himself as he went back to his chambers, “‘with that she walked off as graceful as you please.’Who was it that walked off; and what was the story which the locksmith was telling when I interrupted him at that sentence? Oh, George Talboys, George Talboys, am I ever to come any nearer to the secret of your fate? Am I coming nearer to it now, slowly but surely? Is the radius to grow narrower day by day until it draws a dark circle around the home of those I love? How is it all to end?”


In this part of the novel we find Robert Audley still searching for his friend George Tallboys who went missing a couple of chapters ago. After meeting Lady Audley in London, he goes back to his apartment and finds out that a locksmith (Mr. White) has been in his room. He then goes to see this locksmith to understand what happened, but the man tells him that there has been an error and he shouldn’t have been there. Mr. White then leaves the room and Robert starts asking himself some questions: when he entered the room the locksmith was telling a story and the only thing he heard was “and so, with that she walked off gracefully” so he immediately starts thinking about who that person could’ve been. There are some repetitions inside this passage: “with that she walked off” “who was it that walked off” this repetition helps the reader to realize how much Robert overthinks. He is fixated with the idea of finding out what happened to George and this is expressed by the repetition of the phrase “George Talboys, George Talboys”, also, the word “nearer” is used two times in this text: Robert asks George if he’s ever coming any close to the unraveling of the secret that concerns his disappearance, then asks him if he’s coming nearer to it now and if he’s understanding how to arrive to a sort of closure.

What I’m really trying to say here is that I think these lines are important to understand how strongly Robert feels about George and these few lines really emphasize how he truly wants to arrive to the end of this mystery by giving us an insight into his mind.