Blake’s My Pretty Rose Tree, and how jealousy plays a role in our lives

So basically, a man is offered this beautiful flower and he’s like, “Nah, I’m good. I’ve got a pretty rose tree”. And then he returns to his pretty rose tree, and she’s all jealous so she turns away from him and only gives him her thorns, which makes him delighted. What?

This poem brings up huge themes of lost love, possession, jealous, lack of mutual respect, and selfishness. The gardener/speaker gains this satisfaction from turning down the offer of a beautiful, and perhaps more youthful flower because he realizes he is still wanted. He also comes off as an incredibly self-absorbed individual when he gets all happy about how his rose tree gets super jealous and only gives him her thorns. There is a sense that when she gets jealous, it is his way of getting a major ego boost. Ugh. How unattractive. This obviously shows how the relationship is unequal. The rose is not seen as a partner to the speaker, but as a possession instead. This theme of possession is prominent because of the repeated use of the words ‘my’ and ‘I’ve’.

So, this theme of jealousy and possession got me thinking. How does jealousy play a role in our lives and how are there some people who just do not get jealous at all? I did some thinking and this is what I’ve come up with…

What is the root of jealousy? Maybe it’s fear. Maybe it’s the fear of not being enough, and/or fear of abandonment…? Perhaps it has something to do with self-doubt and even a intense sense of insecurity.

And how does jealousy affect us? Well, first off, it weakens our mental health. We begin thinking of all these unstable thoughts. We begin damaging the trust we have with our partner, and we also begin to break the trust we build within ourselves. Jealousy immediately pulls you into the past. And what I mean by that is how difficult communication can be as one will always look into the past, to what triggered this jealousy and distrust in the first place. There will be that constant doubt of whether or not your partner will do what they did again that brought up this disgusting feeling of jealousy. It restarts arguments. It creates intense insecurity. It makes you mis-perceive common and small situations. It’s just an ugly, unhealthy, and vicious feeling to inhabit.

So, how are there people who can live without jealousy at all?

I suppose people who don’t get jealous are the ones who do not seek approval from others. They are not reaching for something outside of themselves when ultimately, what they are seeking for, is found from within. I think that search for completion, to fill that void we always have open somehow, is a treacherous journey to embark on. Because at first, we feel that this void can be filled by someone or something, but really, as time goes by, we realize our inner demons can only be healed and transformed into something better by growing to learn and love yourself on your own. And that (unfortunately, I guess? I mean it is unfortunate in this day and age when everything is so instant), takes an awful lot of time. Moreover, people who do not get jealous do not compare themselves to others. They have a high sense of self-worth.

You can obviously see why the rose tree is so jealous. The relationship dynamic between her and the speaker is clearly unequal and unhealthy. :/

1 thought on “Blake’s My Pretty Rose Tree, and how jealousy plays a role in our lives

  1. Christina Hendricks

    Very thought-provoking reflections on jealousy here. These three poems, starting with “My Pretty Rose-Tree” I have sometimes just breezed by very quickly because they are short and didn’t seem quite as deep as some others. But yes, this poem does seem to be a meditation on jealousy that brings up some not so pretty stuff. I do wonder if the speaker is actually delighted by the end, though; it might be that he is saying her thorns are his only delight, which is to say not much of a delight at all. As in, maybe he has lost his delight entirely. That reading would put all the ugliness on the rose-tree’s side, though.

    I completely agree with your analysis of jealousy–it fits my own experience, at least. And this also connects to what Rousseau said insofar as he argues that it’s very common in his own time to only feel satisfied with oneself based on the opinion of others. It’s hard not to be, I think, when so much of our lives depend on our relationships with others. How to strike a balance between relying on, needing, supporting, relating with others and so being vulnerable at times, and ultimately being satisfied even if all that doesn’t work out? I’m not sure I’ve got that yet!


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