“Goblin Market” at a Frat Party

Quite obviously, the poem Goblin Market has a plethora of sexual undertones. We see these undertones most notably in two places. First, in the beginning when Laura and Lizzie see the goblin men:

(The line right before this passage is “Laura bowed her head to hear”)

Screen Shot 2016-11-03 at 9.11.10 PM


Many of the words in this passage are subtly (or not so subtly) sexual, like blushing, clasping, lips, close, fruits, hungry, and thirsty roots. The line “who knows upon what soil they fed their hungry thirsty roots?” definitely makes me think of sexually transmitted diseases. The interaction that Lizzie and Laura are having in the previous passage reminds me of how two girls would act at a party if one of them wants to go home with a questionable guy. Here is what I imagine the previous passage would be like if the scene was set in a college party:

A guy comes over to Laura and Lizzie to hit on them. He lets it known that he is single and ready to mingle. Laura is interested in the boy, while Lizzie tries to ignore him. The girls stand together to whisper about the boy. Lizzie tells Laura to stay at the party with her, because if she goes home with strangers she could get an STD.

The second passage where we see strong sexual undertones is on page 4 when Laura buys the fruits.

Screen Shot 2016-11-03 at 10.10.41 PM

There are many examples of sexual words in this passage, like sweeter, fruit, man-rejoicing, tasted, lips, and most obviously, suck. When Laura cuts off a piece of her golden hair, it can be seen as a symbol of her losing her purity, or virginity. By crying right after cutting her hair, Laura could be showing that she is sad about losing her purity. This passage really reminded me of a one night stand. If the passage above was set in a college setting, here is what I imagine it would look like:

Even after Lizzie warns her not to, Laura decides to go home with the boy from the party. She has sex with him, losing her virginity. She cries a little after, maybe because she is sad about losing her virginity, or maybe the sex was just that good? She also may have given him a blowjob, or three. After, Laura leaves his room, all out of sorts, on her walk of shame back to her dorm.

I was shocked to discover that this poem was written for children, because it has so many sexual references. I was also surprised at how this poem written in 1862 is so relatable to a 2016 college campus. Perhaps what has made this poem so popular across centuries is that it has timeless themes.

4 thoughts on ““Goblin Market” at a Frat Party”

  1. I found your blog post to be a very interesting close reading of the sexual undertones within Christina Rossetti’s poem. It reminded me of the piece we read in class a while ago: William A. Cohen’s “Sex, Scandal, and the Novel.” In Cohen’s article, he discusses the coded language the Victorians used to discretely talk about sex- a subject that was too taboo to write about overtly. I believe that this poem was marketed as children’s literature because the sexual undertones are so implicit and disguised within this coded language, thus allowing it to pass as “proper. “

  2. Wow I loved this post. It was so interesting to read how a children’s poem from the 1800s translates into an unfortunate frat party. It might also be useful to notice the importance of food (fruits) in the story and how they seem to change Laura as she eats more. In connecting it with your frat party reference, the fruits seem like alcohol (or even roofies). The more fruit Laura has, the more she wants and at the end she couldn’t even tell time, “knew not was it night or day”. This seems similar to the effects of alcohol…

  3. This was so fun to read. I really liked the way that you compared this to a party too because it adds another dimension to the situation than just speaking on the facts of, ‘if she has sex with him, she may get an std.’ In another post “Things are Getting Hairy in ‘Goblin Market'” http://blogs.dickinson.edu/victorianlit/2016/11/05/hair-in-goblet-market-goblin-market/
    Venereal diseases are also mentioned. This post also mentioned that cutting one’s hair seemed to take away one’s confidence. I wonder how confidence factors into the character’s actions in your version of the poem. I thought this was very creative.

  4. I really liked how this post equated Goblin Market to going to a frat party. As a college student, I found it to be completely relatable. I think it’s important to recognize how Laura’s attempt to let loose, so to speak, ends with her receiving a punishment far worse than simply a hangover. She behaved in a way that was in direct contrast with her usual household duties, and therefore was punished for doing so. While this children’s poem does contain the moral of stranger-danger, it also has a much more sinister undertone about how women should behave, whether at a frat party or in a goblin market.

Comments are closed.