Close Reading on Goblin Market

In lines 64 through 70 of Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market, there is a strong allusion to the story of Adam and Eve and of the struggles of temptation and the evil of giving into it.  The two young girls at the center of this tale are both being bombarded by the goblins who are selling tasty and tempting fruits.  Lizzie instantly calls out the temptation for being evil and refuses to give in, as seen in this line, “‘No.’ said Lizzie: ‘No, no, no; Their offers should not charm us, Their evil gifts would harm us.’” (Rossetti Lines 64-66).  By calling the tempting fruits evil and denouncing them, Lizzie becomes a Christ-like figure.  She doesn’t partake in the eating of the forbidden fruit because she believes it will cause harm and is wrong.  The repetition of her “No” make it clear how steadfast she is in her beliefs and how she will not be convinced otherwise.  She calls the fruit both charming and evil, alluding to the devil’s tricky way of disguising evil things as being alluring.  Lizzie is portrayed as the much stronger and holy girl, leaving Laura to be the black sheep of the two.  

While Lizzie is a Christ-like character and refuses to give in, her counterpart, Laura is a far different story.  Laura is the Eve in this allusion to Genesis.  Laura, after being warned by Lizzie about the evils of the goblins, doesn’t mind learning more about the goblins and their fruit as seen in these lines, “Curious Laura chose to linger/Wondering at each merchant man” (Rossetti Lines 69-70).  It starts out harmless, Laura is merely “curious” which isn’t a bad thing, but it ends up leading to so much more.  This shows how one small bad choice often leads to a much bigger bad choice.  Lizzie at this point had fled the scene in order to escape the temptation but Laura invites it to spend some time with her.  Of course, she ends up giving in and eating the fruit, even going as far as to cut off her own hair in order to pay for it.  In the end Laura regrets this decision, but at the time she is infatuated by the entire situation.  Just like poor Eve who would end up regretting her choice, poor Laura is doomed to do the same, but only after it is too late to change her choices.

By alluding to the Genesis story and creating a Christ-like and Eve-like character Rossetti is able to bring light to the troubles of temptation and the sorrows of sinning.  While it’s not a Bible story, its message is similar; don’t give in and sin, because if you do you will end up regretting it, regardless of how minor a sin it is.


Christina Rossetti. “Goblin Market.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Vol. E. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2012. 1496-1508. Print. The Victorian Period.

2 thoughts on “Close Reading on Goblin Market

  1. Rossetti herself often thought of the poem as a Christian fairy tale or allegory, although some more contemporary readers see it as more sexual than that. So, why Christ-like instead of Adam-like? Would this be more like the Garden of Eden, with its forbidden fruits, than a New Testament Christ?


  2. I think she is Christ-like because she doesn’t give into temptation (like Adam did) and she warns of the dangers of giving in (Like God did to Adam and Eve in the garden). While God wasn’t physically warning Eve not to eat the fruit, he did warn her and Adam beforehand of the dangers of eating the fruit. Lizzie doesn’t allow Laura to pressure her into making a mistake like Adam did, and instead leaves the scene of temptation altogether.

    Liked by 1 person

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