Rossetti - Goblin Market (Analysis)

Rossetti - Goblin Market (Analysis)

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Goblin Market ­ Christina Rossetti (Analysis)
Symbolism, Imagery & Wordplay
This is an obvious one image for "Goblin Market." After all, the poem is about eating fruit and then
wanting for more. The poem opens with a list of 29 different kinds of fruit (yes, we counted). What are
you supposed to do with that kind of variety? The level of detail in the poem is often overwhelming, and
it's hard to take in all at once. So what's all the fruit doing in the poem? Is it just about temptation? Or
does it do something else? That's part of the fun of the poem ­ it keeps you guessing.
Lines 9: The goblins use a metaphor to describe the fuzz on their fresh peaches that makes the
peaches seem like human faces, with "cheeks."
Lines 43-45: In these lines, Laura talks about the "hungry thirsty roots" of the fruit trees feeding
on some unknown soil.
Line 406-407: Here, the intense imagery of the goblins trying to force-feed their fruits to Lizzie
underscores the violence of the scene.
Lines 415-417: Lizzie is compared to an "orange-tree" being pollinated by "wasp and bee[s]"
through an elaborate-simile. Does this sound kind of sexual to you? It is probably supposed to.
For the first hundred years after it was written, "Goblin Market" was read almost exclusively as a
children's poem about the importance of sisterhood and sisterly heroism. In fact, you can still find
greeting cards with the final lines of "Goblin Market" written in them. Just check out the "sister" section
of a rack of birthday cards, and you might find one. But what's going on with these two sisters? All of the
similes suggest that the two of them are virtually interchangeable, and yet one of them succumbs to the
temptation of the goblin fruit, while the other stands firm.
Lines 184-186: This simile compares the two sleeping sisters to a pair of "pigeons in one nest."
Line 188: Laura and Lizzie are compared to "two blossoms on one stem" in this simile. Are they
Lines 562-567: Laura gets the final word because she's the one who provides the moral of the
story, and it's about the importance of sisters. These final lines of the poem use anaphora, or the
repetition of the same basic structure over and over, to form of a list. Laura is listing all the ways
that sisters are awesome.
Flowers in "Goblin Market" tend to be associated with delicate, fragile purity, as opposed to the
luscious, decadent, and sensual goblin fruit. Flowers, though, can be "plucked," which often represented
a loss of purity (line 151).
Line 83: This simile compares Laura to a lily by the edge of a "beck," or stream. Lilies often
symbolize purity in western culture, but they are also sometimes associated with death.

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Line 120: Laura connects the golden flowers on the "furze" with golden coins, or money,
through metaphor.
Lines 150-151: Poor, misguided Jeanie ­ she ate the goblin fruit and even wore the "flowers"
they'd picked for her. There's a possible pun on the word "bower" here: a "bower" is a shady
part of a garden, but it's also used to describe a lady's private dressing room. So a "flower" that
was "plucked" from a "bower" could very well suggest the loss of virginity.…read more

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A lot of the action of "Goblin Market" takes place down by the stream where Laura and Lizzie gather
water. Most of the detail in "Goblin Market" means something. What about the water and all the images
associated with water? Give us your ideas!
Lines 85-86: In this simile, Laura is compared to a ship whose anchor is up and lines are cast
­nothing is holding it back anymore.…read more

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The narrator calls Laura a "fool" for "choos[ing]" to eat the goblin fruit, even though it meant giving in to
"soul-consuming care." The narrator's objectivity seems to go out the window in these lines, which mark
the climax of the poem. It's as though the narrator just couldn't keep her mouth shut during the exciting
part ­ she had to throw in her two cents.…read more

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The title of our poem is self-explanatory: "Goblin Market." It's about the fruit market run by goblins. It
doesn't seem too tricky ... or is it? Like the poem itself, the title "Goblin Market" is deceptively simple: it
seems straightforward, but there's a lot more going on under the surface.…read more

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Facts about the Poet
Christina Rossetti often served as a model for her brother, Dante Gabriel's paintings and
Christina Rossetti was deeply religious, and broke off at least two marriage engagements
because of religious differences.
Christina Rossetti was good friends with Lewis Carroll, the author of Alice's Adventures in
Wonderland.…read more


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