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Goblin Market


Elliott Vogel

on 31 October 2013

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Transcript of Goblin Market

Feminism in Goblin Market

About the Author
Christina Rossetti
Rossetti was raised according to Victorian ideals.

“Goblin Market” functions as a feminist text through it's acknowledgment of female sexuality and desire.
Societal Expectations
Goblins as the General Male Population
Portrayal of Women
In general and in context of Goblin Market...
Feminist Perspective in Literature
Early Life
Rossetti had very strong opinions about life that were (quieted) by the ideal of women at the time. however she was a very opinionated person; especially opposed exploitation of under-age girls in prostitution
(Arseneau 1). These were also important issues at the time that have affected her poetry.
First Works
She began writing poetry in her early teens, with many of these poems(usually discussing her caring mother and mimicked the style of her favorite female poets) being published in her first collection: Verses. Another one of her early works was "Maude Clare: A Story for Girls," which described the hardships of being a female, a poet, and an Anglo-Catholic, all three describing Rossetti.
Context to Goblin Market
Some of Rossetti's earlier works, such as “An Apple-Gathering,” “The Convent Threshold,” and “Maude Clare” all demonstrate her interest in writing of the fallen women, a theme that is explored in "Goblin Market." The "saving sister" of the poem can also be derived from Rossetti's childhood experiences at the St. Mary Magdalene Penitentiary (Arseneau 3).
In the Victorian Era, women had exhibit qualities purity and innocence.

Women were not suppose to show men affection.

Women who engaged in sexual affairs before marriage faced dire consequences.

=>Any temptations women faced, they endured.
Laura is seen as naive to portray how women were viewed as inferior subjects.

Women as Objects
Lizzie and Laura are described as scepters. This shows that woman are meant to serve man for man's pleasure. They are objects for men to play with (Welter 147).
Goblin market is a very sexual poem in itself.

Symbols of sexuality/denial of:
-Laura's lusting after the goblins' fruit[s]=>her entering into an animalistic realm and her halting of the denial of her desire
-Lizzie's flushed cheeks and refusal to succumb to goblins
A Woman's Role
The girls were expected to submit to the desires of the men to have their juices sucked. "By acting submissive to the goblins, Laura lost her sense of individuality and pride that could only be revived through her sister's love and sacrifice" (Winston 82).
Double Standards
Men did not hear the Goblin call- only women did .
Sexual Abuse and Rebellion of Women
Lizzie resisted the Goblins temptations which angers them:
‘One called her proud/ Cross- grained, uncivil/ Their tones waxed loud/ Their looks were evil’, as they try to make her eat their fruit. They attack her violently, yet she still resists them. ‘Lizzie uttered not a word/ Would not open lip from lip/ Lest they should cram a mouthful in’,
Women should not just be objects for men's sexual desires. Although women may be naturally submissive, men cannot force their sexual actions onto women. Also, dominance is not gender-limited, and mustn't be treated that way. Feminine submissiveness in sexual performance does not justify power inequalities in other aspects of life.
Women tend to be the person to raise children and manage the housework. Therefore, "they are often more considerate and caring than their male counterparts" (Leighton 111). Usually, men abuse these traits of women and prioritize their wants desires over the females, who would act considerably and not intervene with the men's egotistical personalities.
Based on Jim Harvey's speech structures
Female Submission
Biblical Allusions- Eve
The fruits and their affect on Laura call to mind parallels between Goblin Market and the Bible. The fruit, or sexual desire, is forbidden.

In the garden of Eden, the delicious-looking forbidden fruit is so tempting that Eve, like Laura, is not able to resist.

The serpent is able to tempt Eve into eating the forbidden fruit just like the sight of the Goblin men and the sound of their calls tempts Laura into eating their fruit.

(Maxwell 81)
The sisters were seen milking cows and fetching honey. They tended the farm and cared for its animals. This was their daily routine. They were portrayed as "modest maidens" who, when pure like Lizzie, had "open hearts." However, once they are corrupted by men (like in the case of Laura), they live in an "absent dream."
-In the biblical story, the serpent has to speak to Eve to convince her to act against God’s will

-Laura is prompted to 'sin' and fulfill her own desires by the mere sight of the goblin men.

-Eve was punished by God- she was banished from The Garden of Eden

-Laura does not express guilt for sinning, instead, just withering away- but unlike Eve, her punishment is reversible- her sister is spurred to action upon seeing her waste away.
Feminist Perspective
"When a person knows they mustn’t do or taste something, it appeals to them all the more." (Knoepflmacher 3)

However, Lizzie was able to resist temptation- resist sinning.

She represents feminism because she is her own individual and made her decision- spurning the goblin[s]- who represent[s] men- until she goes to them on her own terms to save her sister. (Maxwell 90)
Feminist Perspective
Laura, in this case, is representative of feminism because her desire is noted and recognized.

->Her "last restraint is gone" (Rosseline 86)- meaning that she stopped denying her desire as she had when she first heard the goblins' calls.

According to the Feminist Perspective...
The Goblin men are content with Laura not having any money in return for a lock of her hair. They only want a piece of her.
Later only Lizzie can hear the Goblin men.
Sisterly love and looking out for one another allowed them to protect themselves for the corrupting goblins.
The Goblins try to sexually dominate the girls and strip away their purity and independence. They will entice them with their fruits but will later spoil their innocence and her sense of freedom.
Later on, when the sisters are both wives and mothers. They warn their children about Goblin men.

They are more reflective and knowledgeable when discussing their experiences.

‘For there is no friend like a sister/ In calm or stormy weather/ To cheer one on the tedious way/ To fetch one if one goes astray/ To life one if one totters down/ To strengthen whilst one stands’,
As mothers...
• Arseneau, Mary. "Recovering Christina Rossetti: Female Community and Incarnational Poetics." New York: Palgrave Macmillion, 2004.

•Knoepflmacher, U. C. "Ventures into Childland: Victorians, Fairy Tales, and Femininity." Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998.

•Leighton, Angela."'Because men made the laws': The Fallen Woman and the Woman Poet," Victorian Poetry, 27 (1989): 109-127.

•Maxwell, Catherine. “Tasting the ‘Fruit Forbidden’: Gender, Intertextuality, and Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market.” The Culture of Christina Rossetti: Female Poetics and Victorian Contexts. Ed. Mary Arseneau, Antony H. Harrison, and Lorraine Janzen Kooistra. Athens: Ohio University Press, 199. 75-102.

•Welter, Nancy. “Women Alone: Le Fanu’s ‘Carmilla’ and Rossetti’s ‘Goblin Market.’” Victorian Sensations: Essays on a Scandalous Genre. Ed. Kimberly Harrison and Richard Fantina. Columbus: The Ohio State University Press, 2006. 138-149.

• Winston Weathers, "Christina Rossetti: The Sisterhood of Self," Victorian Poetry, 3 (1965): 81-89.
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