The Goblin Market
Christina Rossetti’s The Goblin Market follows two young sisters as they are being led into temptation by the succulent fruits of the goblin merchants. At first glance, one could easily translate Rossetti’s poem as an allegory for Christian redemption, however, based on biographical readings, the poem seems to be more of a response to the Victorian views of “fallen women.”
At first glance, the poem can easily be interpreted as a Christian allegory; a retelling of the original sin. In this “retelling” Laura plays Eve succumbing to the temptation of the forbidden fruit, while Lizzie seems to play the Christ figure who scarifies herself for the salvation of her sister. Although this may seem an acceptable reading, the sexual connotations peppered throughout the poem seem to have no place within a Christian allegory however, its sexual nature does support the idea that The Goblin Market was an outlet for Rossetti to speak of the role of women in the Victorian society. The poem opens with a detailed description of tempting fruits which haunt the girls “morning and evening.” The succulent fruits seemed to be representative of Victorian materialism while both Laura and Lizzie represent the female role in society.
It was commonly believed that women of lower classes fell to prostitution for lack (and want) of money as it was a means of making a living in a society in which employment and education were limited. Prostitution helped feed families as well as the desire for material possessions as it quickly became one of the highest paying professions for women. Laura’s fall in The Goblin Market is illustrative of a woman falling prey to prostitution as a means to provide herself with goods, “She clipped a precious golden lock,/ She dropped a tear more rare than pearl,/Then sucked their fruit globes fair or red:” The lines that proceed detail the utter longing Laura has for these fruits that she cannot afford. She is being taunted by...