Christina Rosetti's Goblin Market

Words: 1169
Pages: 5

Christina Rosetti’s poem, Goblin Market, heavily relies on religious symbols and allusions to develop the theme of temptation. Throughout the narrative, temptation is always present in the form of the fruit at the goblins’ market. The characters, Laura and Lizzie, demonstrate two of the main reasons a person may be lead to give into temptation: curiosity and disparity. Religious symbols are used to not only to describe what happens when one gives into temptation, but also to show how trusting in faith can help one overcome temptation, and to show how much power can come from the act of resisting evil.
Of the sisters, Laura was the first to consider buying fruit from the goblins. However, when she went to the goblins’ market, she had no money
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Having had the goblins squirt juice on her in an attempt to make her taste it, Lizzie was able to get her sister to drink the juice off of her body. As Laura drank “Her lips began to scorch, / That juice was wormwood on her tongue” (Rosetti, 493-494). Now knowing the evils that were tied with the fruit, Laura no longer found pleasure in the taste of their juices. Instead, they tasted bitter like the plant, wormwood. In one of the books of the Bible, Wormwood is the name of one of the Seven Trumpet Judgements. The biblical wormwood is said to turn water bitter and cause people to no longer want to drink. In the same way, the juices are transformed from being the focus of Laura’s life into something disgusting. After drinking the now revolting juice, “She fell at last; / Pleasure past and anguish past, / Is it death or is it life? / Life out of death” (521-524). As a result of the combination of Lizzie’s resistance to temptation and Laura’s change in perspective about the nature of the fruit, Laura is cured of her affliction with it. The disruption of Laura’s salvation is comparable to the salvation of Heaven. The phrase “Life out of death” mirrors the belief of Heaven being a new, perfect life that comes after death for those who are loyal to God. This comparison dictates that if one can resist temptation or find a way back to riotousness after having already given in, they will be rewarded with the paradise of Heaven.
The religious ideas and stories referenced in Christina Rosetti’s Goblin Market allow her to elaborate on the theme of temptation in a way that can be understood through poetry. Religion serves as a guide as the narrative discusses the results of giving into temptation, resisting it, and departing from it to return to chastity. As Laura learns, when desirable things seem come at a small cost, their true cost is often far greater than one could