Disappointing friendship

Friendship is significant to many of Rossetti's poems. Throughout the poems in this guide, disappointment in friendship is repeatedly contemplated:

  • In At Home, the speaker laments that her friends are fickle
  • Similarly, in Despised and Rejected, the speaker feels isolated from the world outside and deliberately bars the door to his ‘hollow friends' (line 6) who have disappointed him.


Loneliness and isolation are themes that occurs throughout Rossetti's poetry:

  • The speaker of Shut Out laments that she sits ‘quite alone' (line 21) once she has been excluded from the enclosed garden in which she had enjoyed life, fellowship and hope
  • Similarly, speaker of A Royal Princess describes herself as ‘Alone by day, alone by night, alone days without end' (line 16). It is only when the princess is able to declare that she is ready to ‘take all I have to give' (line 103) and give it to the poor that she is able to escape from the bondage of identity in which she feels trapped.

Sibling friendship and rivalry

In Goblin Market, the closeness that exists between the two sisters Laura and Lizzie is emphasised. They are described as ‘two pigeons in one nest' (line 185) and their love for one another is repeatedly detailed. Lizzie's ultimate sacrificial act of saving Laura from death demonstrates her willingness to risk her own life for Laura. The poem ends with a description of the two girls as mothers instructing their children that ‘there is no friend like a sister' (line 563).

In spite of the celebration of sibling love in Goblin Market, throughout Rossetti's verse, sibling rivalry is depicted more often than sisterly love:

  • In The Convent Threshold, the speaker alludes to ‘brother's blood' (line 2) as an obstacle to having a relationship with her lover
  • In Cousin Kate, the rivalry is between two female cousins. In this, as in the other poems depicting rivalry, the dispute occurs over the love of a man.
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