Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sisters in the Goblin Market

This poem is particularly interesting in that it has more of a narrative feel to it than most other poems. Through the comparison of two sisters, we find out what happens to women when they go astray. Lizzie is the more cautious of the two sisters, telling Laura that "Twilight is not good for maidens," and accepting fruit from strange men is dangerous and unacceptable. These goblins don't even appear to have human-like faces. Rosetti describes them as
"One had a rat's face, / One whisked a tail, /One tramped at a rat's pace, / One crawled like a snail / One like a wombat prowled obtuse and furry, / One like a ratel tumbled hurry scurry..."
Here is an image I found of the "goblins" which look more like animals than actual goblins.
This link is more what I had in mind of what goblins look like.

However, all of these talking creatures reminds me of Alice and Wonderland...considering next week we will be reading that story, perhaps this is a kind of 'pre' Wonderland?

Like Alice, she enters a world she is unfamiliar with, and she falls head over heels into this dreamlike trance caused by the fruit and the misleading "dove-like" voices of the goblins.
In the end, it is Laura's sister who saves her. Lizzie is the rational, grounded sister, and she does not react to the goblin's violent attacks on her. However, for how hard Lizzie works to ignore the goblins, I found this particular quote interesting, when she heads off to buy the fruit for her sister's sake:

"At twilight halted by the brook:
And for the first time in her life
Began to listen and look."

She loosens her morals for the sake of her sister, she does not ignore the symbols of sexual desire (which are represented by the abundance of fruit), but she does not give in all the way as Laura does. She does not figuratively "give herself up" to the goblins by cutting her hair, and they react violently. However, her courage pays off and Laura is saved, except I am a little fuzzy on what exactly it is that saves her...if that could be clarified that would be great.

Overall, I think this poem is a good midway point from the Fairy Tale "Romance Perverted" poems that we studied last week and Alice and Wonderland for next week.


  1. That's the thing that always really interests me about these stories of "temptation" - in the Bible and in poems like the "Goblin Market," which are often allegories to the Garden of Eden and the fall of Eve.

    It just reminds me of Paradise Lost all over again. And this is surely because I've been educated in the 21st century, but I find it absolutely bizarre that the pursuit of knowledge is so frequently seen as crime that must be punished. There are plenty of classical and even colloquial examples: Pandora's Box, Eve in the Bible, and even the common adage, "Curiosity killed the cat."

    So why is knowledge - even sexual knowledge, for that matter - so forbidden, so out of bounds? Why such harsh punishment for so small a crime?

  2. After looking at the other illustrations that Alec and Liz showed us in class, I think this one looks even more fairytale like and not as realistic. I like how she is sitting down amongst them but I feel like Rossetti's image makes them look more scary because they are completely surrounding her. Like the other one in class, she is tiny in built and her long blond hair gives more of the fanciful idea.

  3. I agree that the sisters provide a contrast for each other in this piece but I think what is even more interesting is the absence of men in the poem. We talked about this briefly but I think the fact that one sister accepts the strange fruit of goblins and drives the other sister away kind of speaks to a potential lesbian undertone. Maybe it's suggesting that when women spurn "sisterly love" for the exotic fruit of men they pay the price. "Buy Now" indeed.