“Goblin Market”

“Goblin Market” by Christina Rossetti is a poem about goblin-like men trying to sell their various types of fruit to two girls: Laura and Lizzie. They are very insistent that they take a bite of the fruit they have to offer and even take unusual payment to make sure the women get a bite. The passage, or line specifically, that really caught my attention is line 479, “For my sake the fruit forbidden?” For any person who has read Paradise Lost by John Milton these two words together is no stranger to the scholarly eye. Granted these two words together form alliteration, which not only makes the two words stand out amongst the others but notice the phrasing of the words. Not “forbidden fruit” like we’re used to but the words are flipped to “fruit forbidden.” When we are looking at the archetype forbidden fruit we are thinking of an apple that, when eaten, leaves the human race vulnerable to sin and temptation. The particular phrasing in this poem leaves the reader to believe that, because they moved the words around, it distinguishes itself to a deeper meaning than Paradise Lost and is talking about numerous fruits mentioned in the poem. If the goblin, animal-like men only offered apples than a clear similarity could be made to Milton’s work but since it’s different we can associate each fruit with a different temptation. We also see at the end of the stanza, in line 492 that Lizzie has not eased to temptation, unlike her sister due to her “hungry mouth,” which is saying how she has not been corrupted and has successful avoided temptation for the time being. In conclusion this poem discusses the temptation of the world, in many different forms and specifically talking about the enticement that greedy men have to offer to women. The men being described in such a negative manner doesn’t portray them as prince charming, in fact quite the opposite, and women should avoid the temptation, or the “fruit forbidden”, to resist to them.

One thought on ““Goblin Market”

  1. Ryan,
    I definitely see the connection to PL here, but I’m not sure two words really gives us a lot to go on. 🙂 You say the fruit in the poem leads to a different temptation–what kind? What was Adam and Eve’s temptation, to begin with? Ditto for Lizzie’s ‘hungry mouth.’ I usually need longer passages to really give me a rich range for analysis and interpretation, particularly when I think about the poem’s context as well. 🙂


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