No Ugly Women in Paradise

Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market tells the story of two sisters, Laura and Lizzie. They looked at the goblin market where the little creatures would sell their fruit and cry “come buy our orchard fruits, come buy, come buy” (Rossetti 1). Although both, Laura and Lizzie, are aware that they should not buy the fruit, Laura eventually gives in and exchanges a lock of hair for the goblins’ fruit. She consumes it quickly and when she wakes up she finds that her hair has gone gray and that she feels burnt out (8).

This is interesting to observe because we can find multiple themes: We can find the Victorian focus on hair and Laura using it as a payment method. Furthermore, we can see strong parallels to the story of Adam and Eve. In paradise, Eve was convinced by a snake to eat an apple which resulted in Adam and Eve having to leave paradise. In Goblin Market it was the goblins who convinced the girl to eat the forbidden fruit. They lured Laura in until she finally could not resist anymore. As a consequence, Laura has lost all of her beauty. In this parallelism, Laura equals Eve and the goblins equal the snake. What is interesting, though, is that Laura’s loss of beauty can be seen as her not being in paradise anymore. Vice versa, being beautiful is paradise.

To put it into relation with our Trout Gallery visit: Women who are not beautiful (or old) are usually disregarded. Out of the exhibits that we looked at, only two featured women who are not young, white, and beautiful. And those images were put in a satirical context. The women in those pictures were portrayed as undesirable. They would kiss a goat or treat their own illnesses. To look at it through the lens of Rathbone: If you’re not marriageable as a woman, your life is not worth living and you are an “existence manquées” and unfulfilled existence (157).



One thought on “No Ugly Women in Paradise”

  1. I think that the snake and the goblins being similar in the two stories is a very accurate comparison, but the actual corruption of Laura and Eve is not that similar at all. Eve is created free of sin; capable of it but not having committed any sins ever in her life. Her whole story results in the creation of original sin (everyone is born with sin) which means she doesn’t have any to begin with. Eve is the epitome of innocence. However, Laura is capable of sin and we can assume she has committed sin in her life before this moment. Clearly, she has moments of weakness, as Eve does too, but Laura is implied to be sinful before the story begins, and so it is less of a big deal when she is corrupted by the goblins. Eve destroys the innocence of all humans; Laura ruins the innocence of only herself.

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