September 13, 2013
Christina Rossetti's "Goblin Market" can be interpreted in a variety of different ways. Her poem is told by an omniscient third-person, who tells the story of two sisters and their encounter with mystical goblin men who sell poisoned fruit. However, one can ascertain meanings beyond the literal interpretation Most readers would interpret the poem as a cautionary tale against sex before marriage or as a showcase for the strength and importance of sisterhood. When one examines the poem closely, they begin to see that while on the surface the poem appears to be about the dangers of premarital sex and sisterhood; it is actually a warning against the dangers of foreign influences on the marketplace.
The use of fruit in the poem does seem overtly sexual when one first reads the poem. The descriptions of eating fruit are sensuous However, these sensuous descriptions are not warnings against premarital sex.
Rossetti seems to be showing the reader that the evils of sex and economy come from the same sinful place. Rosetti wants the reader to associate foreign goods with the taboo.
There seems to be an agreement between the two sisters to avoid the goblin market. As Lizzie states in the poem,
We must not look at goblin men,
We must not buy their fruits;
Who knows upon what soil they fed
Their hungry thirsty roots? (Rossetti, 2012, p. 1497)
The fruit is not forbidden by God, like in Genesis, nor is it forbidden because it transmits or induces sinful behavior. Therefore, one can infer that the true issue with the fruit is that it is from a foreign place rather than from the local market.
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