Women and Sexuality

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Q2: Comparison of Jane Eyre and “Goblin Market”

Bronte’s Jane Eyre and Rossetti’s “Goblin Market” are both texts written in the Victorian period. They both carry similar themes of the evils of patriarchy and the importance of empowering women to assert their identity in this time period. Both Jane Eyre and Laura are characters that are affected by the issues that mainly affected women in the male-dominated Victorian society. This is clearly portrayed when the men in both texts try to confine women physically and emotionally through deception and force. The different portrayal of both male and female characters also plays a very important role in communicating these issues. Rossetti’s “Goblin Market” can be read as a criticism of Victorian arrangement of marriage. She stresses the importance of women’s friendship as the main agent that can help in fighting against or changing society’s exploitation of women. The two sisters represent two different kinds of women; Lizzie, the submissive ones and Laura, those that fought against patriarchy, and the goblins represent the patriarchal system. It shows that women can control their destinies, gain some level of independence, and avoid society’s oppressive rules and work towards their liberation and happiness. In the Victorians society men where more educated, powerful and rich hence they dominated women. Women were subjugated to the home as housewives whilst their husbands earned money for the family. This gave the men even more power over women, both before and after marriage. Therefore, this led to the society ignoring and exploiting of women's rights and abilities, and social status. The goblin men, full of promises not kept, dominate goblin Market, which symbolizes marriage. This clearly shows how men controlled the marriage arrangement. Women had no or little power in society to get what they want hence would resort to selling themselves in marriage. Beauty and look was their only power and so they traded this and offered themselves for the security of a husband. The goblin men are described as animal-like but they still have power and influence over the women. Patriarchy is portrayed as being corrupt and deceptive. Rossetti shows that women were usually coaxed into marriage with lavish promises of love, wealth, status and security. This is seen when the goblin men persistently and persuasively cry out to the girls to “come buy our….plump…sweet…rare” (lines 2-15) fruits. Lizzie, the docile sister succumbs to the Goblin's seduction but her sister Laura realizes the danger and firmly resists the lure of the Goblin men. Laura’s character represents a generation of women brave enough to rebel against stereotypes created by women as loose and passionate as well as fight women subjugation. Men’s deceit is evident in women’s disappointments in marriage. Despite the strict marital laws, men could make a commitment to woman but later leave and go to another woman. This can be seen when Laura returns to the market in need of more fruits but she finds no goblins, they have disappeared with all their succulent fruits. This breaks Laura’s heart and she becomes depressed when she realizes that she may never get to eat the fruits again. This is equivalent to the disappointment most women faced after marriage, in that they were not completely satisfied and happy because they were repressed, oppressed and not loved as much as they expected. Surprisingly though, Lizzie who hasn’t yet tasted the fruits, can still hear the cries of the goblins. She however, manages to resist their incessant cries and calling but focuses on caring for her sister and looking ways of brining her back to life. Lizzie here could represent unmarried women desired by men and being coaxed into marriage. Observing her sister’s pitiful state teaches and empowers Lizzie, and it enables her to avoid falling for the goblin’s temptations. The struggle that could results from a woman’s attempt to fight patriarchy is...
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