The Goblin Market: What Kind of Fruits are these Anyway?

Within Christina Rossetti’s “Goblin Market”, one of the most striking passages to me takes place between lines 422-446. Previously, we saw Laura be successfully tempted by the Goblin men to try their “fruits”.Here, we see Lizzie has escaped the safety of Laura and her home to find the Goblin Market. Previously enamored with the idea of these Goblin men, Lizzie finally manages to find them. However, their seduction turns sinister as they scratch, bite, and pinch her, trying to get her to open her mouth and taste their “fruits”.

This passage is full of both incredibly violent and overtly-sexual imagery. First, we see Lizzie be likened to a “horse” being lead to water. The common use of horses nowadays is very objective. They are used by men, and are mostly ridden from a starting place to an end or finish. Therefore, not only is Lizzie objectified, but also made out to be a tool for the ease of these Goblin MEN. Repeat, MEN. There is not a single reference to any goblin women in this text, which also paints the idea that the only men in this story are these small, repulsive creatures.

These men become violent when Lizzie refuses to taste their “fruits” for themselves. Phrases such as “kicked and knocked her”, “coaxed and fought her”, and “pinched her black as ink” are used to describe their forceful ways of trying to have Lizzie open her mouth. The specific phrase “pinched her black as ink” is used to describe them bruising Lizzie, which leaves darker marks on her fair, white skin. This definitely seems to be saying that these men are tainting Lizzie’s innocence through their bruising her “pure” white skin. Finally, these men, fed up with her refusal to eat, drench Lizzie with the “juices” from their fruit. This “juice” is overtly sexual, as fruit is typically thought of as fertility. Therefore, the juices of the fertile parts of these goblin men are left smeared all over Lizzie’s face and neck. This passage both shocked and repulsed me, as the blatantly sexually-charge and violent imagery oozed off of these pages.

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