Christina Rossetti grew up in an incredibly artistic home. Passionate about both religion and various forms of art, most of the siblings explored their talents in these realms. Her brothers, Dante and William, were members of a group that sought to return to the great art of the early Italian...
Christina Rossetti grew up in an incredibly artistic home. Passionate about both religion and various forms of art, most of the siblings explored their talents in these realms. Her brothers, Dante and William, were members of a group that sought to return to the great art of the early Italian Renaissance (reflecting their father's roots). This group was called the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, and Christina was never a member; this is not surprising considering the standards of the Victorian ideals in England. She did contribute to the group, but she remained always distinctly outside the circle.
Perhaps "Goblin Market" focuses on a world of women to reflect the potential power females could have when they really support each other. In the poem, these goblins are forever trying to tempt the sisters, and Laura falls victim to their schemes. However, Lizzie bravely returns to the goblins where they:
Bullied and besought her,
Scratch'd her, pinch'd her black as ink,
Kick'd and knock'd her,
Maul'd and mock'd her
Lizzie thinks only of her sister and endures it all. She:
utter'd not a word;
Would not open lip from lip
Lest they should cram a mouthful in:
But laugh'd in heart to feel the drip
Of juice that syrupp'd all her face
She obtains the antidote her sister needs and does not waver in her resolve to obtain it.
While some see the goblins as men who inflict unwanted sexual advances on women, it can also be argued that the goblins are symbolic of all of the evil of the world and that the real theme lies in the power of women to bravely overcome it together. It speaks of the unity of women and of the sacrificial love that women hold for each other.
And, in this interpretation, the power struggle between men and women is a bit more abstract. Rossetti thus paints a picture of women no longer standing on the outside of men's circles—as she has done with her brothers' artistic brotherhood. Instead, they empower each other to thrive and overcome: no men needed. In this view, women hold their own power and do not rely on men to provide it or give men the power to deny it.