A Helpmeet for Him
By Christina Rossetti
Woman was made for man’s delight,–
Charm, O woman! Be not afraid!
His shadow by day, his moon by night,
Woman was made.
Her strength with weakness is overlaid;
Meek compliances veil her might;
Him she stays, by whom she is stayed.
World-wide champion of truth and right,
Hope in gloom, and in danger aid,
Tender and faithful, ruddy and white,
Woman was made.
Summary of A Helpmeet for Him
- Popularity of “A Helpmeet for Him”: “A Helpmeet for Him” by Christina Rossetti, and English writer, first appeared in 1881. It was included in her popular collection, A Pageant and Other Poems. The poem is a roundel, a type of poem having a repeating refrain at the end of th first and the last stanza. Its title refers to the Bible, specifically the book of Genesis, where God creates Eve as a helpmeet for Adam. That is why it is a popular poem in the religious circles. Its beauty, feminine theme, and assertion of femininity demonstrate Rossetti’s approach to female identity in her poetic output.
- “A Helpmeet for Him” As a Representative of Gender Roles: “A Helpmeet for Him” serves as a representative of the poet’s exploration of gender roles and expectations in Victorian society. The poem presents a nuanced perspective on womanhood, challenging conventional notions of their being weak and submissive creatures. Rossetti emphasizes the multifaceted nature of women, acknowledging the strength and power they have beneath their meekness and compliance. She portrays women as both supporters and champions of truth and righteousness, capable of providing hope, assistance, and stability during darkness and danger. By presenting women as essential companions and sources of strength for men, Rossetti’s poem seeks to redefine and elevate the role of women, highlighting their significance and contribution t the pursuit of a harmonious partnership.
- Major Themes in “A Helpmeet for Him”: “A Helpmeet for Him” presents the thematic strands of the multifaceted nature of women, the balance between strength and weakness, and the role of women as champions of truth and sources of hope and support. The poem portrays women as human beings created for the delight and companionship of men, symbolized by the line, “Woman was made for man’s delight.” Rossetti highlights the charm and courage of women, urging them not to be afraid. The poem also emphasizes the duality of women’s strengths and weaknesses, with their might wrapped in their meek and docile nature. She further presents women as sources of support, emphasizing their role in providing strength and assistance to men when required. Her depiction of women shows them as champions of truth and right, offering “Hope in gloom, and in danger aid.”
Analysis of Literary Devices Used in A Helpmeet for Him
Christina Rossetti’s skill of using various literary devices to enhance the intended impact of this poem is quite apparent. Some of the major literary devices in the poem are as follows.
- Alliteration: This is the repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of words or stressed syllables. For example, “Woman was made for man’s delight” (Line 10) shows the repetition of the /w/ sound that creates an alliterative effect, adding musicality.
- Assonance: It is the repetition of vowel sounds within words in close proximity. For example, “Charm, O woman! Be not afraid!” (Line 2) shows the repetition of the /a/ sound in “Charm” and “afraid” creating assonance and adding to its musicality.
- Consonance: It is the repetition of consonant sounds in words close to each other. For example, “Him she stays, by whom she is stayed” (line 7), shows the sound of /s/ adding music to the poem.
- Hyperbole: It means exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally. For example, “World-wide champion of truth and right” (Line 8) shows that it exaggerates the role and impact of women, portraying them as champions of truth and right on a global scale.
- Metaphor: It is a figure of speech that directly compares two different things, implying a resemblance. For example, “His shadow by day, his moon by night” (Line 3) shows the woman’s role is metaphorically compared to a shadow.
- Repetition: It is the act of repeating words, phrases, or lines for emphasis or reinforcement. For example, “Woman was made” (Lines 1 and 4) shows the repetition of this phrase, emphasizing the central idea of the poem.
- Symbolism: It is the use of symbols to represent abstract ideas or qualities. For example, “His shadow by day, his moon by night” (Line 3) shows the shadow and the moon symbolizing the woman’s role in providing support to men.
Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “A Helpmeet for Him”
Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is an analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.
- Diction: This is the choice of words and phrases used by the poet. The poem shows the use of of formal and poetic diction.
- Meter: This is the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line of poetry. The poem follows a loose meter with varying stress patterns. It does not strictly adhere to a specific meter.
- Rhyme Scheme: The pattern of rhyming words in a poem, usually represented by letters. The poem follows the ABAB rhyme scheme in the first quatrain, ABA in the tercet, and again ABAB in the final quatrain.
- Poem: “A Helpmeet for Him” is a short lyrical poem that expresses the thoughts and emotions of the poet.
- Stanza: It is the division of a poem into smaller sections. The poem consists of three stanzas; two quatrains and a tercet.
- Tone: It is the attitude or mood conveyed by the poet through the language and style of the poem. The tone of the poem is celebratory and appreciative of the role of women as companions and supporters.
Quotes to be Used
This quote is suitable to be used in discussions or debates about traditional gender roles and expectations. It highlights the belief that women were created to bring joy and pleasure to men.
Woman was made for man’s delight.