Monsters & Madness

Secret Lives in Victorian Literature

The Goblin Market

Close Reading of Goblin Market:

Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market is an incredibly sexualized poem, even though she openly wrote this for children. The depiction of the change that happens when the goblins find out that Lizzie wants to take the fruits to her sister in hopes of curing her becomes very climactic. The goblins early on in the poem were portrayed as being very happy “chuckling, clapping, crowing,” “hugged her and kissed her, squeezed and caressed her.” For some reason, this changes as they become increasingly evil and violent. In both cases, the goblins comparable to animals, however, the comparisons are vastly different. When Lizzie and Laura first meet them, they are “wagging” and “purring” like other animals, later on when Lizzie encounters them, they lash their tails, bark, and become more vicious. The goblins represent a binary; they embody both innocence and corruption. When the goblins attack Lizzie, the text makes it appear that their intentions are most likely far worse than we were lead to believe though. The goblins “held her hands and squeezed their fruits against her mouth to make her eat.” The fact that they held her down and “squeezed their fruits against her mouth” suggests that this act was performed without any consent and was the use of brutal force. Along with that, the goblins “tore her gown and soiled her stocking” which to suggests that she was violated in some way by the goblins. The author includes this scene to make a statement about the evils of men and how this affects women in the Victorian era.

1 Comment

  1. I agree with your statement that the poem is making a sort of statement about the behavior of men during the Victorian Era’s treatment of woman. I believe that the statement being made is that there are some women who can fall prey to the evils of men who try to take advantage. While there are women like Laura who see through the facade that men try to portray and fight back against them so that they will not become another victim. I believe that Laura and Lizzie embody two different depictions of women, not just Victorian women, but women in general. They are used in comparison to show that not all women are alike and that even through our difference we share a commonality. Which is the way men try to take advantage of us.

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