In this essay I’m going to be analysing ‘Goblin Market,’ one of many poems written by Christina Rosetti. I will be discussing how the poem could be perceived by different audiences and whether it has other meanings apart from the obvious moral tale. There are several themes running through the poem many of which signify Rosetti’s lifestyle as a devout Christian, a member of the Pre-Raphaelite inner circle and more, I will pin point the important ones. One reoccurring theme throughout the poem is religion, as I mentioned earlier this plays a big part in Rosetti’s life. Many references are made although some indirectly.
The poem begins at a market with goblins selling fruit, there is a chant all the way through the poem from the goblins saying ‘come buy, come buy’ this is almost like the goblins are preaching in the street. Line one hundred and twenty eight is where Laura first tastes the fruit, the fruit is talked about as being forbidden, there is a link with the bible. In the story of Adam and Eve, the fruit is forbidden. The poem goes on and there are references to Jesus Christ, line four hundred and sixty six Lizzie comes back, the two sisters explain how they have missed each other.
The Goblin Poem
Lizzie has suffered for her sister like Christ did for Christians. The image of Jesus Christ and Lizzie are not dissimilar in the fact that they both participated in the world but managed to remain pure. Lizzie has redeemed her sister to make her ok again. Also in the same stanza line four hundred and seventy four it states ‘Eat me, drink me, love me;’ this is a connection with the communion last supper, Jesus gave disciples food and wine. Some aspects of ‘Goblin Market’ could easily be perceived as being a children’s fairytale, for example the language chosen by Rosetti is sometimes very child like.
At the very beginning of the poem there is a mouth watering very appealing to young children list of juicy fruits, almost like a fantasy. Also line sixty seven features childlike language ‘a dimpled finger. ‘ Examples of the poem being linked with fairytales would be ‘she clipped a precious golden lock’ and moon and stars gazed in at the, wind sang to them a lullaby. ‘ Throughout the poem there are a few classic nursery rhyme lines, such as ‘put a silver penny in her purse. Also as the characters are two young girls, children will be able to relate to them easily. Having discussed the fairytale aspects on the other end of the scale there are frequent references to a sexual nature. Line four hundred and five ‘Tore her gown and soiled her stocking,’ could be suggesting rape. Christina Rosetti has worked in High Gate Penitentiary, a business devoted to saving lost and loose women, as she has had experience of working with women who’ve been raped she decided to include this in her poetry.
There is also a mention of violence, ‘streaked her neck which quaked like curd. ‘ ‘Goblin market’ is an extremely contrasting poem, it contains violent and sexual issues (including prostitution) and on the other hand has countless child like references. It’s hard to say who the poem was originally aimed for. I believe that a defenceless child reading the poem would be unaware of the connections to sexual behaviour. I think that this poem is a reflection of her life in the sense that many events that occur in the poem, she has experience of.
As I have mentioned before Rosetti’s life does come through in her poetry, not just in ‘Goblin Market’ others as well. All in all the poem is a very enjoyable although confusing poem to read! A year after it was written ‘Goblin Market’ was interpreted by James Ashcroft Noble as “a little spiritual drama of love’s vicarious redemption, in which the child redeemer goes into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil, that by her painful conquest she may succour and save the sister who has been vanquished and all but slain. William Michael Rosetti warned against a search for detailed symbolism, while accepting a general ethical significance for the poem: “I have more than once heard Christina aver that the poem has not any profound or ulterior meaning- it is just a fairy story; yet one can discern that it implies at any rate this much- that to succumb to temptation makes one a victim to that same continuous temptation; that the remedy does not always lie with oneself; and that a stronger and more righteous will may prove of avail to restore one’s lost estate. “