Caroline Norton (essay date 1863)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "'The Angel in the House' and 'The Goblin Market'," in Macmillan's Magazine, Vol. VIII, No. 47, September, 1863, pp. 398-404.

[In the following excerpt, Norton offers a favorable assessment of "Goblin Market," maintaining that the work is Rossetti's best and that its linking of fantastic imagery to everyday life allows "Goblin Market" to "vie with Coleridge's 'Ancient Mariner'."]

The "Goblin Market," by Miss Christina Rossetti, is one of the works which are said to "defy criticism." Is it a fable—or a mere fairy story—or an allegory against the pleasures of sinful love—or what is it? Let us not too rigorously inquire, but accept it in all its quaint and...

(The entire section is 1592 words.)

J. Ashcroft Noble (essay date 1895)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Burden of Christina Rossetti," in Impressions and Memories, J. M. Dent and Co., 1895, pp. 55-64.

[In the following excerpt, Noble praises "Goblin Market" as a "spiritual drama" about the redemptive power of love.]

For those who love letters so well that even its mere chronology has for them no barren aridity, there are certain years to which are assigned specially honourable places in the chambers of memory; and 1862 has a double claim to such honour, for it witnessed the publication of the "Last Poems" of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and of the first really representative work of Christina Rossetti. When the latter poet was but sixteen, a little collection...

(The entire section is 1112 words.)

Marian Shalkhauser (essay date 1956)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Feminine Christ," in The Victorian Newsletter, No. 10, Autumn, 1956, pp. 19-20.

[In the following essay, Shalkhauser examines "Goblin Market" as a "Christian fairy tale" in which Lizzie represents Christ and Laura signifies sinful humanity.]

Christina Rossetti's "Goblin Market" is a unique Christian fairy tale in which a feminine cast of characters is substituted for the masculine cast of the Biblical sin-redemption sequence. Lizzie, the pure sister, is the symbol of Christ; Laura represents Adam-Eve and consequently all of sinful mankind.

The basic symbolic pattern begins immediately: "Morning and evening / Maids heard the goblins cry."...

(The entire section is 1161 words.)

Lona Mosk Packer (essay date 1958)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Symbol and Reality in Christina Rossetti's Goblin Market," in PMLA, Vol. LXXIII, No. 4, Part I, September, 1958, pp. 375-85.

[In the following essay, Packer argues that the symbolismwhich is often vaguein "Goblin Market" reflects the realities of Rossetti 's life, just as the symbols in her other works correspond with her life, and that the poem should not be read simply as a "Pre-Raphaelite masterpiece."]


In common with other such enduring works of art as The Faery Queen, Gulliver's Travels, and Alice in Wonderland, Christina Rossetti's "Goblin Market" has many levels of meaning. At the...

(The entire section is 8994 words.)

Ellen Moers (essay date 1976)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Female Gothic," in Literary Women, Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1976, pp. 90-110.

[In the excerpt that follows, Moers regards "Goblin Market" as Rossetti 's contribution to Gothic fiction, or the "literature of the monster," and maintains that the poem serves as an examination of the cruelty and sexuality of children rather than as a Christian allegory.]

Thinking about Wuthering Heights as part of a literary women's tradition may open up a new approach to a faded classic of Victorian poetry by a woman who was in fact, as Emily Brontë certainly was not, gentle, pious, and conservative: Christina Rossetti's "Goblin Market." In 1859, twelve years...

(The entire section is 2263 words.)

Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar (essay date 1979)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Aesthetics of Renunciation," in The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination, Yale University Press, 1979, pp. 539-80.

[In the following excerpt, Gilbert and Gubar argue that "Goblin Market" demonstrates Rossetti 's opinion of the necessity for female renunciation of the "risks and gratifications of art. "]

Like [Rossetti's]Maude, "Goblin Market" (1859) depicts multiple heroines, each representing alternative possibilities of selfhood for women. Where Maude's options were divided rather bewilderingly among Agnes, Mary, Magdalen, and Maude herself, however, "Goblin Market" offers just the...

(The entire section is 4177 words.)

Cora Kaplan (essay date 1979)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Indefinite Disclosed: Christina Rossetti and Emily Dickinson," in Women Writing and Writing about Women, edited by Mary Jacobus, Croom Helm, London, 1979, pp. 61-79.

[In the excerpt below, Kaplan surveys feminist readings of "Goblin Market" and argues that the poem explores female sexual fantasy.]

To fill a Gap
Insert the Thing that caused it—
Block it up
With Other—and 'twill yawn the more—
You cannot solder an Abyss
With Air.

(Emily Dickinson, c. 1862)1

This curious, compacted lyric is one of a group of...

(The entire section is 4354 words.)

Dorothy Mermin (essay date 1983)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Heroic Sisterhood in Goblin Market," in Victorian Poetry, Vol. 21, No. 2, Summer, 1983, pp. 107-18.

[In the following essay, Mermin argues that "Goblin Market" explores the feminine fantasies of "freedom, heroism, and self-sufficiency," celebrates "sisterly and maternal love," and suggests the possibility of a Pre-Raphaelite sisterhood.]

"Goblin Market" is usually read as an allegory of the poet's self-division that shows, in Lionel Stevenson's representative summary, the conflict between "the two sides of Christina's own character, the sensuous and the ascetic," and demonstrates "the evil of self-indulgence, the fraudulence of...

(The entire section is 5165 words.)

Jeanie Watson (essay date 1984)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "'Men Sell Not Such in Any Town': Christina Rossetti's Goblin Fruit of Fairy Tale," in Children 's Literature, Vol. 12, Yale University Press, 1984, pp. 61-77.

[In the following essay, Watson maintains that while the Christian allegorical framework of "Goblin Market" is the means by which the story is made "'acceptable," the fairy tale subtext of the poem subverts the Christian moral of renunciation and extolls the virtues of imagination and knowledge.]

Although "Goblin Market" has long enjoyed a reputation as one of the finest of children's poems1 and has repeatedly been labeled a fairy tale, in line with Christina Rossetti's...

(The entire section is 6291 words.)

Steven Conner (essay date 1984)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "'Speaking Likenesses': Language and Repetition in Christina Rossetti's Goblin Market," in Victorian Poetry, Vol. 22, No. 4, Winter, 1984, pp. 439-48.

[In the following essay, Conner explores the relationships between "Goblin Market" and Rossetti's other works, maintaining that the use of repetition in Rossetti's devotional poetry establishes a sense of "confirmed redemption," while in her nursery rhymes this repetition formula creates a sense of "irresolution." Similarly, Conner suggests, this "irresolution" is the result of the use of repetition in "Goblin Market."]

"Goblin Market" remains one of the most persistently puzzling poems of the...

(The entire section is 4389 words.)

Elizabeth K. Helsinger (essay date 1991)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Consumer Power and the Utopia of Desire: Christina Rossetti's 'Goblin Market'," in ELH, Vol. 58, No. 4, Winter, 1991, pp. 903-33.

[In the essay below, Helsinger reviews "Goblin Market" as a "fantasy of consumer power, where the empowered consumer is a woman," concluding that such power is gained by women through the "withholding of desire" and that the poem describes a Utopian withdrawal from the economics of sex and marriage.

The language of Christina Rossetti's best-known poem, "Goblin Market," is remarkably mercantile. "Come buy, come buy," the iterated cry of the "merchant men" that punctuates the poem, has few parallels in English poetry in the nineteenth...

(The entire section is 12795 words.)

Janet Galligani Casey (essay date 1991)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Potential of Sisterhood: Christina Rossetti's Goblin Market," in Victorian Poetry, Vol. 29, No. 1, Spring, 1991, pp. 63-78.

[In the following essay, Casey studies the meaning of "sisterhood" in "Goblin Market," arguing that the term implies a variety of meanings and "potentially includes the experience of both sexes." Additionally, Casey examines the Victorian conception of the nature of sisterhood as popularized by the work of Florence Nightingale and suggests how Rossetti 's own work as a "sister" may have influenced her writing of "Goblin Market. "]

"For there is no friend like a sister."

Critics of...

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Mary Wilson Carpenter (essay date 1991)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "'Eat me, drink me, love me': The Consumable Female Body in Christina Rossetti's Goblin Market," in Victorian Poetry, Vol. 29, No. 4, Winter, 1991, pp. 415-34.

[In the following essay, Carpenter suggests that "Goblin Market" presents a radical view of women's bodies and appetites that was influenced by Rossetti 's participation in the Oxford Movement's "women's mission to women," in which she worked with prostitutes and homeless women.]

When Alice falls down the rabbit-hole she behaves, as Nancy Armstrong has pointed out, like a typical shopper—picking out and then putting back a jar of orange marmalade from the shelves of the rabbit-hole.1...

(The entire section is 9036 words.)

David B. Drake (essay date 1992)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Rossetti's Goblin Market" in The Explicator, Vol. 51, No. 1, Fall, 1992, pp. 22-24.

[In the following essay, Drake discusses "Goblin Market" as a modified epylliona small epicin which Lizzie plays the role of the epic heroine.]

Christina Rossetti's "Goblin Market" exhibits several of the characteristics and conventions of epic poetry and should be studied as a somewhat modified version of the epyllion—a poem that emulates the classical epic in subject matter and technique, but is decidedly shorter (typically depicting just a single heroic episode) and narrower in scope—modified because the epyllion is ideally composed using...

(The entire section is 945 words.)

Sean C. Grass (essay date 1996)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Nature's Perilous Variety in Rossetti's 'Goblin Market'," in Nineteenth-Century Literature, Vol. 51, No. 3, December, 1996, pp. 356-76.

[In the essay that follows, Grass examines the influence of various aspects of Rossetti 's life on her writing of "Goblin Market." He identifies Rossetti 's extensive use of lists as the "interpretive key" in determining which biographical events correspond to the events in "Goblin Market. "]

The critical interpretations of Christina Rossetti's "Goblin Market" that have been advanced during the last two decades are nearly as multifarious as the goblin fruits so lavishly depicted in her verse. A cursory glance at the...

(The entire section is 6422 words.)