The Limits of the Pie-Crust, in Christina Rossetti’s “Promises Like Pie-Crust”

The Limits of the Pie-Crust, in Christina Rossetti’s “Promises Like Pie-Crust”

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The majority of love stories and romantic tales portray love in an optimistic light. Christina Rossetti, however, chooses to present her love poem, “Promises Like Pie-Crust” in a very different way. The views of the poem’s speaker are that of a cynic or realist, and she treats romantic relationships very negatively. Her view of the world is that unless she knows that something is true, and will be true for eternity, she will not put those boundaries into her life. The use of the pie metaphor within the title, “Promises Like Pie-Crust”, further strengthens her argument because it links the concept of a promise to a structure that is intrinsically fragile. She believes that like pie crusts, a promise seems doomed to eventually breakdown. Lastly, she insinuates thatpast relationships have helped to form the limiting view she has on life and love. Rossetti’s speaker is unable to pursue a romantic relationship because her world views limit her actions to what she knows for certain to be a truth.
The use of the pie metaphor introduces the speaker’s belief that promises and relationships are built on a foundation that can easily fall apart and prove to be untrue. The title, “Promises Like Pie-Crust” comes from the English proverb, “Promises are like pie-crust, made to be broken” (Damrosch 1745). The title hints not only at the overall tone of negativity toward romantic relationships in the poem, but also at the speaker’s world views. She believes that you cannot enter into a verbal agreement, or make a promise, unless you know that those words will be true forever. She clearly believes that at the center of a relationship is a set of promises that the lovers make to one another, and that this is a foundation that is bound to break....


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... another failed relationship, and would rather settle on simple friendship, without any risks or boundaries.
Typical love stories support the rash actions and professions of un-dying love from lovers; however, the speaker takes a very real world view and criticizes the fragile nature of promises and it is this negative outlook that cripples her ability to enter into a romantic relationship. The speaker governs her actions by what she feels proves as true or false, and she does not act unless she knows this for sure. She finds comfort in the freedom of friendship rather than love. This may have stemmed from a broken heart or a series of failed efforts. Whatever the reason, it is clear that she treats love in a very different way than most people. Rossetti, however, presents love in a rational but negative way in which she craves for a simple and stable existence.

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