Cousin Kate Summary & Analysis by Christina Rossetti

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“Cousin Kate” is a dramatic monologue by the British poet Christina Rossetti. Rossetti wrote “Cousin Kate” while she was a volunteer at the St. Mary Magdalene house for "fallen women," a derogatory 19th-century term for supposedly unchaste women (such as unmarried mothers and sex workers). The poem is told from the perspective of one such woman, who is seduced by a powerful lord and bears his child out of wedlock. "Cousin Kate" is specifically addressed to the speaker's cousin, who marries the lord despite his mistreatment of the speaker. Like many of the other poems included in Rossetti's first and most famous book of poetry, Goblin Market and Other Poems, "Cousin Kate" explores the hypocrisy of gender roles and the dangers of temptation.

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