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“Goblin Market” Poem by Christina Rossetti


The goblin market is a poem published in the 18th century by Christina Rossetti. The poem unfolds the story of two sisters, Laura and Lizzie, who enter the Goblin market when men are selling their fruits in the streets. The fruits represent sexual activities advertised by the merchants in the market (Zhang and Mianmian 188). The two sisters, though they hold themselves at first, are tempted to taste the berries which the writer describes as forbidden. Laura falls for temptation, while Lizzie does not (Zhang and Mianmian 188). This poem brings out various aspects of society; this work intends to highlight sexuality and feminism in the book.

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Feminism is pictured throughout the poem; in a normal society, women tempt men sexually, while in this poem, it is the men seducing ladies. The verse reveals power reversal, where women decide whether they want to lay with the man. The story was written in the 18th century when it was unheard of for men to be in the streets offering sexual services (Gupta, 24). The poem also showed the strength of a woman when Lizzie resisted the fruits of the goblin men. The author portrayed her as strong and a hero in the (Gupta, 25). She later saved her sister, who had fallen for the temptation.

Additionally, the writer mentioned the forbidden fruit connected to Adam and Eve in the bible and illustrated gender role reversal. Rossetti depicted the women as beautiful who were not the temptresses, not looking to be saved by men, but they were the protagonist (Zhang and Mianmian 186). The poem illustrated a story written by a woman to empower women and to show that women can possess power just like men in a time and place where females were not seen as equals to males.


Sexuality is visible throughout the poem; it is majorly about sexual expressions, actions, and consequences. The writer used the fruit as a symbol of male genitalia. Goblin was a heterosexual community with many relationships happening between men and women. For instance, when Laura ‘sucked and sucked the fruit’, it indicates sexual activity between her and a man (Rossetti 186). Furthermore, the above-stated action portrays female sexuality as insatiable ‘Laura sucked until her lips were sore. The author also illustrated male prostitution where men are in the town sold fruits which earned the poem its name ‘goblin market,’ where sexual services were exchanged (Rossetti 186). Women were required to pay for the services, as Laura argues that she does not have a coin and pays through her golden lock.

Moreover, the author indicated overindulgence in sexual activities. The latter is seen where Laura sampled various fruits, and her sex appetite increased significantly. The sexual activities deepened to a point called a forbidden fruit, a religious reference to Eve, the original fallen woman (Zhang and Mianmian 186). Rossetti further showed the consequences of risky sexual behaviors through the story of Jeanie, who died before getting married because of indulging in unsafe sex (Rossetti 190). Lesbianism is also seen when Laura is heartbroken and her dreams of finding love shattered by men. She turned to her sister Lizzie for comfort and security (Rossetti 194). The two, in turn, formed an incestuous bond which Rossetti’s vivid images described.


Goblin is a great piece of art that has existed for many years. The work has remained relevant in linguistics because of the writer’s intelligent use of the figure of speech. The poem has indirectly gives power to women seen as being more feminist. Christina was able to illustrate sexual acts through figurative speech. The poem is an excellent piece to educate men and women in society.

Works Cited

Gupta, Bulbul. “Christina Rossetti’s “Goblin Market”: A Feminist and Psychoanalytical Study. Vol. IV, No. 1, 2018, pp. 23-26.

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Rossetti, Christina. Goblin market. BoD–Books on Demand. 1st Ed 208, pp. 183-197.

Zhang, Pengfeng, and Mianmian Cai. “On Rossetti’s Goblin Market with the Perspective of Ethical Literary Criticism.” International Journal of Science. Vol. 6, 2019, ISSN: 1813-4890.

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