Sample Paper on Goblin Market by Christina Rosetti

Christina Rosetti’s Goblin Market is a very controversial poem that the feminists, religious and spiritual theorist and historical critics set out different interpretation of the poem. This poem at the same time give’s different meanings to readers. Different themes like; “being careful of what temptation brings” and “sisters should look out for one another” are examples of lessons one can easily absorb after reading this. A reader should always consider having an open mind in reading this, for this is a poem very interesting and intriguing. But going deeper, learning the meaning of the poem requires deep imagination and emotion.

For the first 16 lines of the poem, we learn that only the single ladies are the one who hear the “cry” of the goblin men and that the fruits in the market are all for sale knowing that in the 90’s the fruits do not grow at the same time, in the same season. As the poem says, Morning and evening, the maidens or the young unmarried ladies hear the cry of the goblin men. They offer fruits that are luscious and sweet as honey.

“Morning and evening

Maids heard the goblins cry:

“Come buy our orchard fruits,

Come buy, come buy”

The next 17 to 31 lines talk about the unending invitation of the goblin men to come and buy, to come and try. The author describes the fruits in many different ways, ways that sound so tempting to try, so sweet to hear and making the listeners eager to try. They offer fruits that are very tempting to the eye by just the look of the fruits they offer. Making the ladies drool and wanting for some.

“Sweet to tongue and sound to eye;

Come buy, come buy.”

Second stanza is about Lizzie and Laura sitting together next to a stream every night. But then Laura bows her head not sure of what she is embarrassed about. Laura follows to bow her head as well. Both have tingling cheeks as they hear the voices of goblin men calling. Then the fingertips are tingling as if wanting to grab something. Laura then asks Lizzie to lay close to her and to not pay attention to the voices they hear specially the fruits they sell because who knows where the fruits came from still as they pass through the valley, the goblin men pursue calling them. Then Lizzie warns Laura not to look at the men and cover her eyes but Laura pays no attention and starts looking at the men, describing everything she see’s to Lizzie. Laura is then amazed how luscious the grapes the men are carrying but Lizzie told Laura that she does not want to hear how luscious the grapes look like and covers her ears and run. Lizzie on the other hand looks very curious on how the men work. She now describes them as having body parts like animals, different animals that even their voices sound like them.

Temptation enters Laura and when she said she has no coin to offer the goblin said her hair is enough payment. With a tear in her eye, Laura cuts a curl in her hair and handed it to the goblin then she started to feast. Laura gets up with pride and walks away from the men who abused her. The poem describes Laura sucking the fruit globes fair or red and in bafflement, walks home alone in astray.

To summarize the next stanzas, Lizzie waited for Laura to reach home and the gate. It took a while for Lizzie to realize what has happened to Laura. She then lectures her about their friend Jeanie who died tasting that fruit. She reminded Laura how Jeanie was supposed to be happily married but because of her curiosity and how she let the temptation get to her, she suffered being alone and died miserably. Laura seems not to care and even promises to go back to the goblin men the next day and bring Lizzie the fruits she could carry.

The next scene says the sisters went to sleep together, embracing one another, cheek to cheek and breast to breast. This scene makes an impact of sexuality between two young innocent girls with the other influenced by mischievous act.

The next day, Lizzie starts to notice the change in her sister. As Lizzie gets ready to go home, Laura daydreams and waits for the goblin men’s cry so she can again go back. Laura hears nothing but Lizzie tells her she hears them. Because of this, Laura falls into depression and wants to end it by killing herself.  Seriously hurt of what has happened to her sister, Lizzie takes a silver coin and sneak out to the market. Upon arriving there, she offers her coin in exchange for the fruits but the goblin men signals that she eats with them. Lizzie refuses because all she wants is to buy the fruits and give it to her sister so she would not be depresses anymore. The goblin men do give her what she wants, instead, they start taunting her. Because of her refusal, the goblin men starts calling her names, one calling her “proud or uncivil” until it became physical, this time, it started to look like rape. Lizzie managed to keep her body closed as they rip her hair, tear her down and try to make her dirty. It did not end with that because they also tried squeezing their fruits into her mouth as they force her to eat. Though she’s been bullied and abused, Lizzie never opened her mouth and with the goblin men tired, they leave her and finally gave up.

The author then describes her as,
“Like a royal virgin town

Topped with gilded dome and spire.

Close beleaguered by a fleet”

Lizzie walks home and as she reaches her sister, she tells her to hug her, kiss her and suck her juices from the goblin men. This scene again portrays another sexual act because Lizzie was described to be longing for something, maybe because the goblin men left her longing on purpose or that they just gave up knowing she won’t open her mouth and body.

“Laura, did you miss me?

Come and kiss me.

Never mind my bruises,

Hug me, kiss me, suck my juices

Squeez’d from goblin fruits for you.”

This stanza may indicate that she was left longing. After that, Laura seems to return to her youthful innocence again with the help of her sister. Both girls redeem themselves after that incident. As the line ends, Lizzie freed her sister of the spell and then goes into a deep sleep not knowing if it’s death or not.

“Lizzie, Lizzie, have you tasted

For my sake the fruit forbidden?

But then Lizzie wakes the next morning eventually well and somehow redeemed. Laura thanked her a lot of times and appreciated everything her sister did for her. As the story ends, both sisters are with kids now, Laura tells the story to the children of how her sister Lizzie sacrificed herself to save her from merchant men.

“Laura would call the little ones

And tell them of her early prime,

Would talk about the haunted glen,

The wicked, quaint fruit-merchant men,

Then the poem shows how powerful a sister’s love can be with such sacrifice one could give. It ends with lines saying,

“Then joining hands to little hands

Would bid them cling together,

“For there is no friend like a sister”

There are a lot of interpretations we can have from the poem just basing it from our own reading. It may be sexual, religious or even feminism.  Basing from the theme of the poem that talk about sisterhood, it really has a strong impact on every female reader for one sacrificed herself just for the sake of the other. Looking at it sexually in the view of sisterhood, being abused and or even raped by men you do not like is a heroic act. The poem shows a very strong and deep emotion for sisterhood maybe because the author herself dedicated this poem to her sister who was her closest friend. But looking at it in the point of religion, it may indicate the symbolism of Adam and Eve and the forbidden fruit, the temptation Adam and Eve had to go through before giving into temptation. Another side to look at is the feminists’ side where some critics suggest it is a poem on feminine sexuality. The historical critics say it is a poem that aims to even the entrance of women into the world of capitalism. It may not sound as good as it is but the message of sisterhood over powered the others. It shows how far a sister would go just protect the one she loves and cares about. As the line says, “For there is no friend like a sister”.

The poem sounds so radical and very liberated knowing that the time it was published, women are still not recognized as equal to men. It is a very strong weapon for women during that time to speak for them and express how they feel. So this point from the feminist side can be very true. Going on to the religious point of temptation and redemption, it somewhat symbolizes the temptation during Adam and Eve went through with the forbidden fruit. As for redemption, the poem portrayed how hard it is to redeem one’s self after doing something that is prohibited.

Summarizing all the messages from different interpretations, the author would like the readers to remember the consequences of doing something you know will burn you. As the saying goes, be careful when you play with fire because you can always get burned. Another is that, temptations will always be present wherever you go, you should always have control of yourself, you should learn to let go of things that tempt you and remember the effects of you actions not only to yourself but also to the people around you. One point to take is that when you come to realize you did something wrong, you yourself should know what to do; redeeming one’s self might not sound that easy, but as a man/woman of substance, it is the right thing to do. Lastly, the message that conveys all messages is the love that comes with sisterhood. Truly, love conquers all for a sister is willing to sacrifice herself for the safety of the other. A heroic act maybe but the proper name to call this is selfless love. Selfless love that gives more than receives an act that loves more than thinks and accepts more than judge. A lot of readers might think of this poem as sexually liberated but they should come to realize that a powerful poem like this can give meaning to someone’s struggle. The poem will always be a symbol of unending message of sisterhood for everyone to read, hear and see.

Over all, the poem is very striking for the way it was written and the characters are symbolized that even the fruits, the streams have different meanings.



Shmoop Editorial Team. “Goblin Market Summary” Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 30 Nov. 2012.

Poetry Analysis, Goblin Market by Christina Rosetti (2008), Retrieved November 30, 2012, by;Jennifer Hudock, from,

Christina Rossetti’s “Goblin Market”: Feminist Poem or Religious Allegory? (2004) Retrieved November 30, 2012, by; Breanna Byecroft, from,

Goblin market (1859-1862) Retrieved November 29, 2012, by Christina Rosetti

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