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Goblin Market Formalist Perspective
Transcript of Goblin Market Formalist Perspective
Rosetti uses symbolism and structure in her poem “Goblin Market” to contribute to the themes of sexuality and addiction.
“She sucked until her lips were sore” (136)
“Hug me, kiss me, suck my juices” (468)
“Plump, unpeck’d cherries” (7)
Fuzz on the fresh peaches make the peaches seem like human faces with their “cheeks”
Fruits are a symbol of temptation. They become the object that she so desires which will eventually lead to her downfall. While she is aware of their negative effects on others, she still does not hesitate to try them because of their tempestuous nature.
Goblins symbolize the devil. This circumstance is similar to the story of Eve and the serpent. If the goblins had not been screaming “come buy, come buy” so much, maybe she would have been able to resist the temptation (4).
The goblins forcing the fruit into Lizzie’s mouth is a symbol of sexuality. She wishes to be pure of the substance, but they are pushing her into it against her will. She is essentially being stripped of her innocence and virginity.
Fire symbolizes passion. It’s used in the description of the fruits and the feeling as Laura ate it, both very passionate encounters. When she is getting ill, her fire disappears (278-280). The cure that Lizzie retrieves is described as a “fiery antidote” since it is powerful and meant to combat evil (557).
Light symbolizes redemption. Rosetti alludes to the bible verse Matthew 5:15-16 ‘Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven'. This is said when Laura thinks that Lizzie may have sacrificed her innocence for Laura. Laura fears that her sister will lose her purity and health, so she shares her hopes for her sister to not give away her virginity
The central meaning of a literary work is discovered through a detailed analysis of the work’s formal elements rather than by going outside of the work to consider other issues, whether biographical, historical, psychological, social, political, or ideological (Diyanni 14).
Weak to temptation- she ignores her sister’s advice even though she is fully aware of the dangers of the fruits. She originally plans on avoiding the goblin men, telling her sister “We must not look at goblin men,/ We must not buy their fruits” (42-43). Logically, she is certain that she does not belong interacting with the goblin men, but it takes very little time for her to ignore her original rationale and divert into temptation.
Addicted- Now that she has tasted the fruits, she cannot resist the temptation that they represent. She explains to her sister that, though she’s already eaten plenty of the fruit, her “mouth waters still” (166). As the next night approaches, all Laura can think about is the possibility of having more fruit. Her demeanor as she makes her way to the goblins is “most like a leaping flame” (218). She has a deeply pained reaction to learning that she can no longer hear the goblin men, as she “sat up in a passionate yearning,/ And gnash’d her teeth for her baulk’d desire, and wept/ As if her heart would break” (266-268). She later refuses to go about her life or even eat, as the loss of her deepest desire has broken her. It is not until she receives another dose of her addictive substance that she is able to physically and mentally recover from this withdrawal.
Naive- She doesn't realize how strongly the effects of the fruit are. She lets her curiosity get the best of her and continues on with the goblin men. After her experience with the fruits, she does not even consider the fact that she has put herself in grave danger and decides to continue eating the fruits. She even goes so far as to try to convince her sister to taste the fruits as well. She tells her sister that “To-morrow night I will/ Buy more,” which shows that she has not yet learned her lesson and need a traumatic event to occur in order to realize the weight of her actions (167-168).
Stubborn- despite her sister’s advice to the contrary, Laura decides to approach the goblin men. Although it it clear that Lizzie is wiser and more understanding to her surroundings, Laura chooses to ignore that and disregard her sister’s advice. She later decides to explain that she was right all along by telling Lizzie about how she ate it without harm. She explains that she is fine and that it is delicious, describing the flavors of the fruit.
The formalist perspective consists of a detailed analysis of the work’s formal elements in order to discover the central meaning. In viewing Goblin Market through the formalist perspective, one is able to see the true meaning of the poem. Rossetti uses devices such as symbolism, word choice, characterization, and setting in order to convey the meaning. The device that plays the largest role is symbolism. Many of the symbols are that of temptation, which seems to be one of the biggest recurring issues throughout. As previously stated, one symbol is the fruits and the Goblins. The fruits represent temptation, while the Goblins symbolize evil. The act of the Goblins forcing the fruit into Lizzie’s mouth is symbolizing sex. This is the central theme of the poem when it is viewed through the formalist perspective. Using the formalist perspective allows the reader to closely examine the true meaning of the poem.
Characterization of Lizzie
Cautious- Lizzie immediately sees the danger in the goblin men’s fruits. Her initial reaction to Laura’s interest shows her guardedness and careful nature when she says “Their offers should not charm us,/ Their evil gifts would harm us” (65-66).
Protective- Lizzie’s first reaction to the goblin men is to warn Laura of their harm. She clasps arms with her sister and tells her that she “should not peep at goblin men” (49). Whatever happens to the two sisters, Lizzie’s first instincts lead her to protect her sister. Later in the story, she is willing to sacrifice her own life for her sister. She sees how ill her sister has become from eating the fruits, yet she still takes the risk in order to improve her sister’s health. Lizzie is willing to possibly give up her own life to save Laura. Her dedication is later described when Laura is explaining to her children how Lizzie, acting as a selfless sister, tried “To lift one if one totters down” (566).
Intuitive- While Laura is easily distracted and tempted by the goblin men, Lizzie “veil’d her blushes” when she first sees them (35). She immediately recognizes it as a dangerous situation and tries to escape it. She is aware of the potential of temptation, as she understands the realities of life, but she doesn’t fall victim to her desires. Instead, she “cover’d up her eyes” as an attempt to reduce any possibility for the tempestuous fruits to attract her attention (50).
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