Analysis Of Christina Rossetti's Goblin Market

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Preventative Education in Christina Rossetti’s “Goblin Market”

At the time of the Victorian era, many women found themselves unfortunately regarded as little more than personal property—of their fathers, then their husbands, and if they should be so unlucky, of a brother should their husbands pass away. Motherhood was considered the sole purpose or “crowning achievement of a woman’s life” (Kent, 33), and individuals enjoying positions of power “encouraged the view of women as sexual objects” (Kent, 5). As an author and poet, but even more significantly as as woman herself, Christina Rossetti could not avoid the importance of this issue, often times weaving it into her works. Sometimes she bore the subject casually, sometimes mentioned it
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This curiosity does not, in any way, appear to be an atypical occurrence. The narrative early on establishes that “morning and evening/Maids heard the goblins cry/Come buy, come buy/Apples and quinces/Lemons and oranges…Dates and sharp bullances/Rare pears and greengages” (1-30). In the first few lines, Rossetti ascertains several important clues that later clarify what the goblin men truly sell. Firstly, only young maids hear their call, suggesting a sexual awakening or realization for the girls. The variety of fruits available, from all different areas of the world, compasses the experience of hearing “the call” to women from all walks of life. Fruit, in general, also tends to carry a sexual significance, considering the juices of fruit, their ripeness, and sweet flavor. In support of this claim, the specific term “maids”, as applied here, refers to young women, usually virgins, who as of yet have no experience with many men intimately and have no one to direct their questions to. This awakening must be treated subtly, as the time dictated such a topic unacceptable. As girls changed from youths to women, society expected them to never speak on sexual topics, educate themselves, or even think about it. While refusal of …show more content…
She “call[s] the little ones/And tell[s] them of her early prime…about the haunted glen/the wicked, quant fruit-merchant men/Their fruits like honey to the throat/But poison in the blood” (548-555). Though she evidently did marry and bore children herself, girls like Jeanie suffer more permanent consequences. Lizzie and Laura both, then, become roll models, as Lizzie may be held up as an example for young women, and Laura as an example to the rest of society as she properly warns her children about the goblin-men. Lizzie and Laura had the tale of Jeanie to caution them, true, but they had no authority figure to instruct them, acting simply off of vague details. The goblin men themselves cannot be the sole transgressors; in staying silent on what could happen, Rossetti claims that women owe it to one another to give advice and warnings. When she claims “there is no friend like a sister” (562), Laura speaks not only of Lizzie, but on all British women. They share a bond of sisterhood with one another, and owe it to one another to break out of the social bonds that dictate they remain silent on such an intimate, uncomfortable topic. Their needs and desires, especially when coming of age, are as biological as the nature imagery of the poem, and just as natural.