Introduction to Goblin Market, Rossetti Essay

1805 Words May 19th, 2013 8 Pages
1 "Goblin Market" by Christina Georgina Rossetti
Poem by Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830-1894), composed in 1859 and published in 1862 in Goblin Market and Other Poems. INTRODUCTION "Goblin Market," an early work considered to be one of Rossetti's masterpieces, was intended simply as a fairy story. Despite Rossetti's assertions that she meant nothing profound by the tale, its rich, complex, and suggestive language has caused the poem to be practically ignored as children's literature and instead regarded variously as an erotic exploration of sexual fantasy, a commentary on capitalism and Victorian market economy, a feminist glorification of "sisterhood," and a Christian allegory about temptation and redemption, among other readings.
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The nature of the goblins' fruit is extensively detailed and described as luscious and succulent. Laura consumes the fruit ravenously ("She sucked until her lips were sore" [1. 136]) and physically pays for it with a lock of her hair. Once Lizzie decides to seek the goblin men, their taunts carry heavy sexual overtones as well. First they "Squeezed and caressed her" (1. 349) and then invite her to "Bob at our cherries / Bite at our peaches" (11. 354-55), and to "Pluck them and suck them" (1. 361). When she refuses to eat, they "Held her hands and squeezed their fruits / Against her mouth to make her eat" (11. 406-07). Finally, when Lizzie returns home, battered and bruised, she invites her sister's embrace: "Come and kiss me. / Never mind my bruises, / Hug me, kiss me, suck my juices / . . . Eat me, drink me, love me; / Laura, make much of me" (11. 466-68; 471-72). This erotic language has been used to support readings of the poem as a sexual fantasy and an examination of the sexuality and cruelty of children. Some critics focus primarily on Lizzie's suffering and subsequent offering of herself to her sister, reading this not as a sexual advance but as a sacrifice similar to Christ's redemption of humanity's sins or as exemplifying the power of sisterhood in a secular or feminist sense. The language of the poem is also filled with terms of commerce, economics, and exchange. The goblins sell exotic fruits to Laura, who pays for them with a

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