Goblin Market…Prelapsarian?

Rosetti’s Goblin Market has this prelapsarian vibe right from the opening lines, but you might not realize it until further into the poem. After line 4, with the “come buy, come buy” readers do get the sense that these goblins are attempting to upsell or persuade the maids to buy their fruit. Reminds us of something else in literary history, no?

“Morning and evening

Maids heard the goblins cry:

“Come buy our orchard fruits,

Come buy, come buy:” (1-4)

However, Rosetti doesn’t stop there. Throughout the rest of the poem, Laura and Lizzie are faced with the temptation by the goblins to eat of the fruit they are trying to sell. It became quite clear that Laura was the sister who should be worried about in terms of falling victim to the temptation. “Laura bow’d her head to hear/ Lizzie veil’d her blushes” gives readers the sense that Laura was eager to read into what the goblins were saying/selling while Lizzie was hesitant and even went so far as to attempt to persuade her sister out of such a potentially bad situation.

Throughout the poem, while Laura claims at one point they should not engage with the goblin men or the fruit they are selling, she continuously falls into the trap of temptation from the goblins. They [the goblins] clearly had a motive and Laura was falling right into it.

It is interesting that Rosetti alludes to the story of Adam and Eve in such a way that involves two sisters rather than a man and a woman, and the tempting force, instead of a serpent, is a goblin. While this was written in the Victorian era, it certainly has the mythical and almost supernatural elements that Restoration and Romantic literature also encapsulated.

It is unique how early in the piece Rosetti makes the temptation known; there is no masking what is going to happen in this poem even in the opening lines. She gets straight to the point and carries the theme throughout the piece. As stated, the Adam and Eve vibe is definitely there, however, where we don’t get much of an image of what life is “like” prior to the temptation, I still see a unique way of describing the prelapsarian element to Lizzie and Laura. Rather than having a whole story/context given about them, their “before the fall” is the back and forth with the goblins.

One thought on “Goblin Market…Prelapsarian?

  1. M, you definitely highlight the potential pre-lapsarian element here and the implicit connections to the Garden of Eden–nice! You also raise an interesting discrepancy: why would Rosetti make this about two sisters rather than a man and a woman? Any speculations on this? What’s the role of sisters in the poem?


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