Through “Goblin Market” there are moments regarding the fruits that the Goblins sell, the cut hair used as a way to pay the Goblins for the fruits, and the violence that they use against Lizzie which refer to sexual temptation/curiosity, prostitution, and sexual assault respectively.
Firstly, there are many cases where the Goblins try to get people’s attention, by emphasizing how great their fruits are. The fruits seem to be described in a sexual way, “Sweet to tongue and sound to eye” (Rossetti, 1), constantly mentioning its freshness and exoticness “our grapes fresh from the vine” (Rossetti, 1). Laura, despite her sister’s warning, is curious to go up to the Goblins and ask for some of these precious fruits, “Laura stared but did not stir, Longed but had no money: The whisked-tailed merchant bade her taste, in tones as smooth as honey” (Rossetti, 3). Thus, Laura’s curiosity could have been considered as sexual, having a sexual temptation to eat the valuable fruits.
Secondly, early in the poem, Laura accepts to cut some of her hair and provide it to the Goblins as a form of currency, “Buy from us with a golden curl. She clipped a precious golden lock, she dropped a tear more rare than a pearl, then sucked their fruits globes fair or red” (Rossetti, 4). Laura basically turns her hair into a product of value, essentially selling part of herself for these cursed fruits. This action resembles the one of a “whore” or a prostitute who would sell her body as a way to earn money or in this case magical fruits.
Finally, when Lizzie goes on to face the Goblins and tries to buy some fruits, she refuses to buy them with her hair and rather pay with actual monetary currency. When Lizzie continues to refuse the Goblin’s offer, they start to get angry and violent “their looks were evil”, “they trod and hustled her”, “elbowed and jostled her”, “tore her gown and soiled her stocking” (Rossetti, 11). These violent actions resemble actions or attempts of sexual assault toward Lizzie, which also resemble the actions that men took in the Victorian era when women were not “obeying” their men’s orders.