Masterplots II: Juvenile & Young Adult Literature Series Goblin Market and Other Poems Analysis - Essay

Christina Rossetti

Masterplots II: Juvenile & Young Adult Literature Series Goblin Market and Other Poems Analysis

Although “Goblin Market” is told in a simple narrative form appealing to young readers, its main themes are interwoven in a complex manner through both overt and subtle references and imagery. The most apparent subject of the poem is that of temptation and the consequences of indulgence, on the one hand, and resistance, on the other. Laura, willful and romantic in nature, is juxtaposed to the sensible Lizzie, who is, in effect, her other half. The two together represent the conflicting impulses that push one toward either experience or innocence, excess or prudence. Such temptation is repeatedly expressed in terms of oral craving and heightened sensory detail. “Sweet-tooth Laura” ignores the warnings of her sister in favor of the “sugar-baited words” of the goblins, indulging in a gluttonous feast until she can eat no more, but Lizzie, contrastingly, will “not open lip from lip” as the goblins force food against her mouth. While the poem’s message is clear, the ultimate ramifications of this theme require close consideration from the reader.

The question arises, for example, of what specifically the fruit represents. The majority of evidence suggests that the goblin wares, referred to as “fruit forbidden,” are Edenic in quality and indicate Rossetti’s tendency to include traditional Christian morality in her works, a fact corroborated by the devotional pieces included in Goblin Market and Other Poems. The fruit then denotes sexual sin, and the goblin men, with their “evil...

(The entire section is 621 words.)