Although all the examples of sexuality in “Goblin Market” are purely ones of metaphor, there is still an extremely prominent theme of sex and female sexuality in the poem. Even though Lizzie stays composed and refrains from the “fruits of the goblins” that come out at night, telling her sister Laura “Their offers should not charm us, their evil gifts would harm us.” Laura is seen as pure, graceful and elegant– how the proper woman during the Victorian Era should be. Laura, on the other hand, while she starts out as pure, ends up becoming very impure and develops an “addiction” to the fruit. Once she is lured into the goblin’s’ market, she began to “suck their fruit globes fair or red, sweeter than honey from the rock… she never tasted such before, how could it cloy with the length of use?… she sucked until her lips were sore… and knew not was it night or day as she turned home alone.” Quite obviously, Laura’s encounter with the goblin’s “fruit” is a metaphor for fellatio and loss of her virginity. From this moment on, there is an obvious divergence between Laura and Lizzie– while Lizzie stays pure, works on her chores, and lives for the day, Laura spends her time pining for the fruits of the goblins, thus craving the night and not getting to her chores at all. While Lizzie yearns for the light (referring to heavenly, good tendencies), Laura yearns for the darkness (referring to sin).
When looking at this poem through the lens of the article “Daughters of Decadence: the New Woman in the Victorian Fin de Siecle”, it can be concluded that Rossetti is against the age of the “new woman”, and hopes for womankind to stick to the strict gender roles established for them. One of the largest factors the “new woman” embraces is her sexuality and need for lust. “Pursuing new sensations” was very important to the “new woman”, and freedom to have sex was one of the sensations women were wanting to enjoy. Rossetti warns in her poem the dangers of premarital sex, declaring that all who do will waste their lives away craving nothing but sex and losing sight in the jobs that women must perform. According to Rossetti, sex (after marriage!) is important, because it is seen at the end that the sisters are married with children (which implies that they have had sex), but ultimately, there is no stronger love and passion than love for a sister rather than a man. This is implied when the two say together “for there is no friend like a sister in calm or stormy weather; to cheer one on the tedious way, to fetch one if one goes astray, to lift if one totters down, to strengthen whilst one stands.”
What I am really trying to say here is that while there were many writers that supported this new Victorian idea of the “new woman”, there were many authors, like Rossetti who condemned it.