Christina Rossetti creates an immense sense of physicality within her writing. Her descriptions of violent interactions between characters create vivid images in the minds of the readers. The evidence of this physicality can be found in her poem titled Goblin Market. The main character Lizzie encounters these goblin fruit sellers two times in the poem, with the second time significantly more violent and unsettling than the first. It is during this second encounter with the goblins that Christina Rossetti display’s her ability to create violence in her writing.
The dynamic of the interaction between Lizzie and the goblins quickly turns during her second encounter with them. After Lizzie refuses to sit down and feast with them, their conduct changes from that of overly pushy salesmen to outright barbarous monsters. “Their tones waxed loud, their looks were evil. Lashing their tails they trod and hustled her, elbowed and jostled her, clawed with their nails, barking, mewing, hissing, mocking.” After reading this quote, I immediately connected it to all those online videos featuring herds of people body checking each other for appliances, sneakers, and other various material items on sale during Black Friday. The quote continues with “tore at her gown and soiled her stocking, twitched her hair out by the roots, stamped upon her tender feet, held her hands and squeezed their fruits against her mouth to make her eat.” Beyond the obvious rape implications shown here, Rossetti increases the magnitude of the violence against Lizzie by describing what is being done to her hair and to her feet. By displaying acts of violence against the very top of her body and the very bottom, Rossetti is able to establish a complete image of physical violence against Lizzie’s entire being.
In summation, Rossetti’s description of the aforementioned scene creates images in the reader’s minds that are incredibly disturbing. One may picture a rape, or getting lost in a large raucous crowd at a young age. For me it was those videos of unruly citizens fighting over a toaster oven with a 70% markdown at Walmart. Whatever it may be, the physicality presented in this poem is obvious, but the way one interprets it may be different, and that makes Rossetti’s imagery special.