Xenophobia in “The Goblin Market”

“The Goblin Market” is a poem by Christina Rossetti and is about two sisters, Laura and Lizzie, who venture to a Goblin Market. Laura cautioned Lizzie “not [to] look at goblin men” and “not [to] buy their fruits” (Rossetti).  However, Laura falls to the temptation and buys the fruits. This leads to her becoming addicted to them and later her death. “The Goblin Market” is representative of xenophobia in the Victorian Era and the fear of foreign merchants. Anxiety around reverse colonization in the Victorian era caused many people to fear that foreigners would try to invade or harm them. This fear can be seen through “The Goblin Market” because the goblins are symbolic of traveling merchants.

The poem warns readers from buying items from these merchants because they could be dangerous. An instance of this in the poem is when Laura says “Their offers should not charm us, / Their evil gifts would harm us” (Rossetti).On top of this, the way the goblins are depicted indicates racism as well. All of the goblins are different animals, “One had a cat’s face, / One whisk’d a tail, / One tramp’d at a rat’s pace, / One crawl’d like a snail” (Rossetti). This may seem like a way to paint this poem as “kid-friendly” however, having the goblin merchants be animals is symbolic of how Victorians viewed many foreigners as animalistic or uncivilized. Christina Rossetti’s “The Goblin Market” is symbolic of racist views Victorians had toward foreign people and the fear of the harm they could cause.

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George Eliot

I do a bit of writing here and there.