How Does Rossetti Tell the Story in ‘Jessie Cameron’?

Last Updated: 29 Mar 2021
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Rossetti uses the title of the poem to help tell the story in ‘Jessie Cameron’. Whilst Jessie’s full name is used as the title of the poem and repeatedly referred to throughout, the name of her lover is not once mentioned. Instead Jessie calls him ‘neighbour’s son’ avoiding any more intimate communication. This suggests that she does not regard him as highly in her life as he may regard her, it also suggests that she doesn’t want to lead him on, but because she makes it so obvious that she has no interest in him it may imply that she is tired of him chasing after her.

This use of dialogue by the third person narrator makes the poem seem a lot less biased as we are allowed to see the story from Jessie’s very own perspective. In addition to this, the fact that her surname is drawn upon it suggests that the poem make reflect the permanence, a lot like Jessie herself it will not be changed for the sake of a man. The fact that Jessie chooses not to give in to a man wanting to marry her would have surprised a lot of Victorian readers who did not believe that women should be free to do as they pleased but should accept an offer of marriage when it was given, whether or not they loved the man.

As a result of this it could be suggested that the Victorian attitude towards marriage contributed to the confusion of Jessie’s lover who finds her free-will hard to accept. She claims that she had already told him ‘long ago’ that she will not accept his marriage proposal, but he seems to find this difficult to understand. Through the use of more dialogue it seems to suggest that Rossetti wants to make the point that remaining single is not the message she wants to get across: “For me you’re not the man of men”, rather that women should only marry out of choice if she loves and who is, for her, above all other men.

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Because dialogue is used so much throughout the poem it could be suggested that the third person narrator feels self-conscious towards the fact that they’re narrative alone would not be sufficient enough in order for the reader to trust what they are saying. As a result, it could be suggested that the reader feels as if the use of dialogue makes the narrator’s narrative seem less reliable and trustworthy which in turn makes us doubt the rest of their narrative which makes us more critical as observers and allows us to understand the potential messages that Rossetti wishes to portray throughout the poem. Home, her home, was close at hand”, the repetition of the word ‘home’ acts as a juxtaposition to the landscape of the beach and sea described throughout the poem. It contrasts that Jessie’s house is sheltered and safe, whereas this stands in opposition to the danger of the sea that she finds herself surrounded by. It emphasises the danger of the sea and in addition to this Rossetti wants to warn women about the danger of becoming trapped in a loveless marriage with someone, making them feel unfilled just like Jessie when she realises that she is near to death.

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How Does Rossetti Tell the Story in ‘Jessie Cameron’?. (2017, Apr 01). Retrieved from

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