Christina Rossetti’s “Goblin Market,” published in 1862, illustrates her attempt at combating certain problems she identifies within English literature’s canon social norm, specifically the lack of a proper heroine. In Rossetti’s present time period, there are no noteworthy female heroes in English literature. They may make an appearance every once in a while, but none have an outlet for heroic action. Women seem forever bound by their gender-roles in a male-dominated society. In “Goblin Market,” we enter a sort of parallel universe wherein instead of men dominating society, or marketplace, goblins hold the authority and power, while women are still constrained to the same role. Enter Laura and Lizzie, two sisters who are launched into a “complex representation of the religious themes of temptation and sin, and of redemption by vicarious suffering (1489).” Rossetti intertwines these themes with religious beliefs to promote a proper, moral heroine.
“Goblin Market” alludes to the biblical story of the forbidden fruit and the resulting Fall due to failure in resisting that fruit. “The fruit that tempts Laura, however, clearly is not from the tree of knowledge but from the orchard of sensual delights (1489).” We are introduced to a plethora of these sensual delights and Laura and Lizzie’s first lure into temptation within the first 115 lines. The focus is on the importance of the fruit and the goblin men, which greatly stresses temptation's danger. The goblins repeat over and over again throughout the poem, "Come buy, come buy," which serves as a double meaning; of course the actual act of going over and buying their fruits, but if one were to only hear the poem and not see its words, the listener would probably hear the command, "Come by, come by." Lizzie attempts to grab Laura's attention away from them, "'No,' said Lizzie: 'No, no, no; / their offers should not charm us, / their evil gifts would harm us (1497).'" But Laura, with the curiosity...
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