One of the strongest emotions inherent in humans is desire. In “Goblin’s Market,” the desire to have the goblin’s fruit was too difficult for Laura to resist. The temptation to consume the forbidden fruits cost Laura to lose her normalcy and self-control. The tempting nature of this poem is brought about through the rhyme scheme, tone, diction, symbolism, and structure, which ultimately tricks the reader into thinking this piece of work is merely just a fairytale. Christina Rossetti, in her poem, “Goblin’s Market,” misleads the audience by switching between two distinct tones, innocent and dark, in order to depict the overall theme of temptation.
The rhyme scheme, short lines, and innocent tone in the beginning makes the reader believe that the poem is intended to be a fairytale with a happy plot. This quickly changes when the reader realizes that they are wrong and they have been tricked, just as Laura was deceived into buying the fruit. The lines in the beginning that are associated with the goblins are written in a rhythmic meter that causes them to have a sing-songy tone. This adds to the effect of incantation by which they attracted people, specifically girls, to buy their fruit. For example, the repetition of words ending in berries, such as “blackberries” and “strawberries,” and the enticing goblin chant, “come buy, come buy,” drew Laura’s attention and she was tempted into buying the forbidden fruit. Also all of the lines that end with a “berry” word have six syllables. This allows the goblin’s song to flow smoothly. Having a consistent syllable count can also make the poem sound sing-songy and tempting, which is exactly what the goblins were trying to accomplish. The repetition of the goblin’s deceiving chant, “come buy, come buy,” highlights their insistence and the force of the temptation that they offer. Compared to the rest of the setting. Rossetti also uses words such as “fire,” “earthquake,” and “lightning,” which add to the gloomy mood of the poem. These three words are considered to be horrible and possibly deadly forces of nature. Because of this word choice and the line “is it death or is it life,” it can be thought that while Laura was under the spell of the goblins, she was practically dead. Laura had no self-control over her desires and body during this time and she was depicted as a character that was very dark. Laura was finally brought to life again because of Lizzie when she was released from her spell. Rossetti uses imagery and similes such as, “like a caged thing freed” and “like a flying flag when armies run,” to demonstrate Laura’s freedom from the goblins. The uses of these similes create a positive image that ultimately changes the whole tone of the poem. When this happens, the tone and the setting is no longer gloomy and the reader feels a sense of joy knowing that Laura is back to her normal self.
“Goblin’s Market” is also full of symbolism that can be related back to the biblical story of Adam and Eve. The fruits are a temptation in which Laura is told by her sister Lizzie not to partake in because of the dire consequences. Much like Eve though, Laura chose not to listen and ate the forbidden fruit. Laura lost her beauty and liveliness due to this decision and Eve lost her perfect life. Lizzie is symbolic of Christ. She was not tempted by sin, teaches her sister what to do, and eventually saves her sister from her sins.