It’s Not a Disney Movie

In “The Blessed Damozel,” Rossetti describes a woman in heaven watching her lover on the Earth below. He portrays the woman as “still” (16) and behind the “gold bar of heaven” (2). This description of a static and elevated female harkens back to the prototypical helpless, fairytale maiden. She exists on a pedestal—a symbol of ideal feminine beauty and untarnished purity. The woman stands leaning over the “gold bar” (2), waiting for her lover to come for her, like the princess who waits for her prince, locked away in a tower. Rossetti says that she is in “the fixed place of heaven” (49); this effectively eliminates her ability to move or change her position of her own will. The hopes and dreams that she conveys in the poem are contingent upon the man showing up: “‘All this when he comes.’ She ceased” (135). This cessation refers not only to her sudden realization that her hopes and dreams cannot come to fruition but also to her physical limitations. The “gold bar” (2) from the beginning of the poem becomes a “golden barrier” by the end—she wants to escape, but instead she must be rescued. All she can do is stand in her place “so high” and look down on the world as time passes (29). In this unhappily ever after, the maiden “laid her face between her hands,/And wept” (143-4).

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