Sex in the…Woods?

Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti is a poem that could be associated with many diffe-

depositphotos_58431387-stock-illustration-black-and-white-goblinrent meanings. Some believe that it is an innocent moral fable; some believe that is shows a lesbian dynamic between two sisters. I, however, believe that the poem shows the tale of what happens when virginity is lost before marriage–it is a poem about sex and the problems that it creates. The key elements in disguising the theme of sex are the fruits, goblins, lock of hair and the fate that is stowed upon the young woman who falls for the call of the mysterious goblins.

One of the most important characters in the poem are the goblins. The poem opens up with: “Morning and evening/Maids heard the goblins cry:/’Come buy our orchard fruits,/Come buy, come buy:’”. If a reader is looking at this poem from an industrialist view they could think that the goblins are merchants and they are selling the fruits that they have grown; if looking at it from a sex oriented point of view, one could say that the goblins and fruit have very different meanings. Goblins are foreign beings, they are not common and are not humanistic; the fruit, when reading the next several lines, are not common fruits and are exotic. Both elements, therefore, would be intriguing to the maidens who hear their cry. Being uncommon, the fruits and goblins would beg for young women to want to know more and to want to try their “fruits”. The fruits, however, are not fruits at all.



There is one scene, in particular, that stands out and shows that the fruits take on a whole new meaning: “‘Buy from us with a golden curl.’/She clipp’d a precious golden lock,/She dropp’d a tear more rare than pearl,/Then suck’d their fruit globes fair or red:/Sweeter than honey from the rock,/Stronger than man-rejoicing wine,/Clearer than water flow’d that juice;/She never tasted such before,/How should it cloy with length of use?/She suck’d and suck’d and suck’d the more/Fruits which that unknown orchard bore;/She suck’d until her lips were sore;” (Rossetti). At first glance these lines show that a young woman bought fruit with a lock of hair and thoroughly enjoyed it; she sucked the juices out of it until her lips hurt from doing so. However, when looking deeper into the meaning, it could be argued that the goblins are not just selling her fruit, but rather taking a piece of her that cannot just be replaced. 

The lock of hair is not just a payment, but rather a symbol of losing part of oneself–in this case her virginity. The fruit and the action of eating it has also been sexualized by the use of the phrases: “Clearer tan water flow’d that juice”, “She never tasted such before” and “She suck’d until her lips were sore”. This link shows a live version of these lines and allows the audience to see that there is more to the event than a girl eating fruits that she bought from everyday merchants (starting at second 21).

Another hint at the fruit not being what it is made out to be is what happens to those who consume it. After Laura ate the fruit she stopped hearing the call of the goblins and fell ill. This could suggest that the loss of her virginity made her worthless. She could not hear the goblins call because she was no longer wanted due to her loss of this precious gift before marriage and her illness shows that once a woman’s virginity is gone, she loses her spark. She did not lose her virginity in wedlock and therefore is, seemingly, punished for it. The only thing that could help her is having access to the fruits again, but the goblins do not want to allow for that. They already got what they wanted and want nothing else to do with the poor girl who could not resist temptation.

In a piece by Lesa Scholl, it says that “The forbidden fruit undoubtedly refers to female sexuality…yet it can also relate to female education and knowledge” (Sholl). I found this to be interesting because knowledge in women, at one time, was feared. It was also said that “intellectual activity would cause their reproductive organs to malfunction, securing the double bondage of sexuality and the intellect on women” (Sholl). This theory is one that could be argued because the illness that Laura gets could be seen as organ failure caused by the consumption of fruit that is really female sexuality. There is another case in the poem where the woman who consumed the fruit actually died from this travesty.

There could also be an argument that this poem has to do with a lesbian attraction between the two women. The piece has a seen where Lizzie comes home anRossetti-golden_headd says, “She cried, ‘Laura,’ up the garden,/‘Did you miss me?/Come and kiss me./Never mind my bruises,/Hug me, kiss me, suck my juices’” (Rossetti). These lines could be taken as them being attracted to each other and having intimate relations. I, however, believe that this is a scene where one sister went to extremes to save another from her fate after going against advice to hold onto her virginity.

Dr. Catherine Brown gives an analogy on how to think about sex in literature during the Victorian Era. She says that it is like when you watch a movie from the 1950s and a man and a woman, who could have interest in each other, disappear into a closet–you can assume what is happening, but it is not right there in front of you for you to see. There is a video on Youtube that Dr. Brown has posted that goes into this by using examples from literature, making it easier to understand why Rossetti may have tried to pass this poem off as moral fable. The technique used in this era was to insert topics that were taboo in a way that was hidden and could only be found when studied or read closely. Goblin Market seems to really portray this idea by using fruit to talk about sex and the act of losing ones virginity.

Works Cited

Schll, Lesa. “Fallen or Forbidden: Rosetti’s ‘Goblin Market.’” The Victorian Web, 23 Dec. 2003,

Rossetti, Christina. “Goblin Market” 1859.


1800s Victorian Era vs. 2000s Americas: Has Rape Culture Changed?

The language used in The Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti is a clear indication of how women were treated during that time, as well as the overall plot of the work. Within the plot of what happens to Laura and Lizzie, we can clearly see a parallel of the stigma that is palpable in our patriarchal society nowadays. There has been very little change in these times of how men (merchants, goblins) talk to women, as well as how society discusses those discriminations and later, violences. The Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti clearly shows how women were thought of in the Victorian Period in their dependence on men, sexual desires, and social stigma attached to sex. In the literary language and plot of the story, the readers are able to gain insight into what it meant to be a woman during that time period.

Within the reading, there is the clear distinction of what women should and shouldn’t expect and provide and be a part of in the Victorian culture of that time period. The sexualization begins early, when the merchants (goblins) call to Laura and Lizzie, by telling them only in line 30 “‘Sweet to tongue and sound to eye; / Come buy, come buy’” (Rossetti, Line 30). It feels similar to catcalling nowadays, and how women can’t walk down the street without feeling attacked or objectified. In this case, Laura and Lizzie were seen as the characters that the merchants (goblins) wanted something from, which we later find out, is something that is even more sexualized. From the beginning, the merchants (goblins) are discussing these women’s tongues and yelling to them to buy their fruit, and the notions of sexualization are thus brought to light in the very early stages of the story.

As readers we also see the stages of victim blaming and how it is so easy to do so, even in unclear, Victorian literature that is proving the dismissal of sex. As we read on and see Laura interact with the merchants (goblins), and begin to be hurt and become animalistic by their fruits, we also see how the townspeople react to her interacting with these merchants (goblins) and in her buying of the fruits by telling her “‘Laura, Laura, / You should not peep at goblin men’” (Rossetti, Line 48). Out of context, that line could easily be taken and understood as one person just looking out for the next person when in reality, the repetition of Laura’s name is understood to be condescending in nature. This condescending nature is then representative of the victim blaming that begins and is recognizable in literature, as well as in society.

All of these statements are further represented and understood in the connection to the real world and seeing how, if at all, we’ve changed in any way in response to the world in Victorian period. The victim blaming of that time period is not all that different from the victim blaming of this time period. For example, not so long ago, just March 10 of 2017, a judge was accused of victim blaming while sentencing a rape case, justifiably so. In one of her last sentiments as the judge of that case, Judge Kushner stated that “‘[Women] are entitled to do what they like but please be aware there are men out there who gravitate towards a woman who might be more vulnerable than others’” (Rawlinson). Is this sentiment better than telling a woman she has to know better than to look at the merchants (goblins)? How do those two sentiments compare with each other in responses to sexual assault and/or violation of a woman? Frankly, there is no difference. Both the townsperson in the story and the judge from 2017 believe that it is a woman’s duty to not be violated, because they shouldn’t “look the goblins in the eye,” or “be more vulnerable than others,” and that in it of itself is perpetuating rape culture from the 1800s as one in the same with the 2000s, which is discussed more thoroughly in this news outlet as well.

As we read on and the sexualization becomes more and more obvious – and almost uncomfortable – we begin to understand, subconsciously, how the interactions between women and men are meant to be in heterosexual, emphasis on the sexual, relationships. The language that is continually used throughout the reading drives that point home subconsciously within the reader, an example of which is obvious when we are introduced to the action of when Laura is drinking from the fruits, as she “then sucked their fruit globes fair or red: / Sweeter than honey from the rock. / Stronger than man-rejoicing wine,’” and is later described as “she sucked and sucked and sucked the more / Fruits which that unknown orchard bore; / She sucked until her lips were sore; / Then flung the empty rinds away” (Rossetti, Line 128 and line 134).

It’s important to state that as we go through the reading, we go along with Lizzie as she gingerly goes to the merchants (goblins) in order to get more fruits for her sister, and we see a different side of the merchants (goblins) than we had seen before, as they get aggressive and more pushy with her, beginning with “squeez[ing] and carress[ing] her,” and then quickly going to calling her names, pushing her, and physically hurting her (Rossetti, Line 349). It becomes clear that she is disrespected as a woman in her desires – which in this case, is to just take the fruits home and not eat them – and the merchants (goblins) will continually disrespect her, showing her that her desires don’t matter to them. This is the first aggressive interaction with the merchants (goblins), but we begin to see their true side and the true testament to who they are and what the person means to them. In this case, the merchants (goblins) overpowered Lizzie physically, in order to violate her as they “laughed in heart to feel the drip / Of juice that syruped all her face,” and we see the disrespect that was palpable in that story as well as understandably in that time period, due to the mirroring effect of the time period representing the literature (Rossetti, Line 424).

Through all of these notions of victim blaming, aggression, catcalling, and the language used within the plot line of the story, it becomes prevalent to understand how our world has been shaped by this subconscious, underlying idea that women are not as deserving as men are. The women are nothing but disrespected in this reading, and the only people that do respect them are themselves and each other (which in it of itself is even questionable and arguable). The merchants (goblins) represent the patriarchy as discussed prior, and the women are continually seen through the merchants’ (goblins’) eyes as those that can provide whatever they desire, which is in this case, to make them eat fruit, in a way that will later on hinder them, their lifestyle, and debase them in society and their subconscious mindset of where they stand as women in this world, thus pushing women into subordination.

Works Cited

Catcall Definition.” Mirriam Webster Dictionary, 28 Mar. 2018, Accessed 18 Apr. 2018.

Finney, Karen, editor. “NBC News.” NBC News, 20 Oct. 2013,

disrupt/53329846. Accessed 18 Apr. 2018.

The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Unlimited, 10 Mar. 2017,


Accessed 18 Apr. 2018.

Sly, Andrew, editor. Goblin Market; The Prince’s Progress; And Other Poems.

Gutenberg, Accessed

18 Apr. 2018.

Goblin Market, or A How To Guide on Sexual Innuendos, by Christina Rossetti

Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market is a moral tale, telling the reader a story of the depth and importance of the sibling bond between sisters. However, at a second glance, it seems more and more about something a little more risqué. The poem is full of phallic imagery, allusions to virginity and sexual acts, and an incestuous relationship. Rossetti’s Goblin Market, like a modern Disney movie, is full of these images that become more and more apparent as you age. Presented as moral tales, these films are also lightly sprinkled (though the sprinkling in Goblin Market is incredibly heavy handed) with more sexual imagery than one would expect for a children’s movie. Rossetti’s poem, as we learned in class, was advertised as a moral tale. It was about trusting your sisters and only doing what’s right and knowing that the most important thing in your life is your sister. Disney movies fall into this same place, though maybe not explicitly choosing (and perhaps Rossetti didn’t intend this either) to be so blatantly full of sexual images that the moral is lost until the final six lines of the poem.

Rossetti dances around imagery that suggests more intimate details throughout the poem, using words like plump, juice, dripping, and suck, and detailing kisses shared between the sisters that we can assume go beyond a simple cheek peck. The sisters are presented as virtuous maidens who only have each other, trying to keep from falling into the trap of the goblin men who are selling their fruits. In true fashion, Lizzie falls prey and ends up purchasing herself some fruit from the goblin men, and this is where the sexual images set in. Lizzie cuts a curl of her hair, reminiscent of Alexander Pope’s The Rape of the Lock, where the cutting of hair is tied in with sexual endeavors. Lizzie trades her hair for these fruit, and “sucked their fruit globes fair or red:” (128). This is an image that seems innocent at first, but when read aloud and thought about a little harder, seems to be a reference to Lizzie preforming oral sex on these goblin men, even more so proven a few lines later with “She sucked and sucked and sucked some more/Fruits which that unknown orchard bore;” (134-135). The repetition of the word sucked is interesting in that she never actually bites the fruit, which you would think she would do if it actually was fruit. The mention of the unknown orchard is interesting too, as Laura is covered in imagery associated with virginity from lines 81 to 86, being referred to things like a lily, and flowers are a standard symbol for virginity and purity. The unknown orchard is unknown territory, and once Laura becomes familiar with it, she is no longer described with symbols of virginity.

The scene in which Laura essentially loses her virginity is closely followed by a slew of suggestions that this is exactly what happened – not a simple scene in which the girl gets the fruit she was looking to buy. Lizzie reminds Laura of Jeanie, a girl who also bought fruit from the goblin men. Shortly thereafter, Jeanie is said to have wasted away after she couldn’t get more fruit and that she “dwindled and grew gray;/Then fell with the first snow,/ While to this day no grass will grow/Where she lies low:/I planted daisies there a year ago/That will never grow.” (156-161). We can read this in that Jeanie has sex with the goblin men, and once she did they never returned to her. She grew to become undesirable after losing her virginity, and even in death was unable to sustain life – grass doesn’t even grow where she is buried, nor do the daisies that are planted. After losing their virginity, women are disgusting, they’re undesirable, and nobody ever will or ever should want them. After eating the goblin fruits, Laura becomes almost catatonic – she stops doing work, she begins wasting away, and Lizzie decides that she needs to save her sister.

Illustration for the cover Goblin Market and Other Poems (1862) by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Our sisterly bond reaches a point of clarity when Lizzie takes it upon herself to seek out the goblin men, and she takes a strong stand. She arrives to them ready to pay with money as opposed to pay with hair or actions. The goblin men react poorly to this, “Grunting and snarling./One called her proud,/Cross-grained, uncivil;/Their tones waxed loud,/Their looks were evil.” (393-397). The goblin men seem to only want and desire one thing from women in exchange for their fruit, and it’s not what Lizzie is offering. The goblin men have previously been established as animalistic creatures, with faces akin to cats, rats, snails, and wombats, but they had voices like “the voice of doves/Cooing all together:/They sounded pleasant and full of loves/In the pleasant weather.” (77-80). The goblin men, though a little strange looking, are gentle, welcoming and inviting, much like a car salesman trying to trap you into a deal with a mediocre vehicle. Despite the voices, the images alone of animals represented among the goblin men are animals that are sly, associated with mischief, slimy creatures, or just all together a foreign animal – reminiscent of the way people today refer to lawyers or politicians as snakes. The goblin men have turned on Lizzie, and they become violent, their movements all animalistic and their voices gone and replaced with “Chattering like magpies,/Fluttering like pigeons,/Gliding like fishes, –” (345-347). Lizzie stands firm in resistance against the attitudes of these men, and this angers them further into attacking her, and the goblin men “Held her hands and squeezed their fruits/Against her mouth to make her eat.” (405-406). They assault Lizzie, covering her in the juices of the fruits before growing tired of her, tossing her money back on her and departing, leaving Lizzie alone in the woods.

In the end, Lizzie is able to return to Laura, and in a very descriptive scene, revives her. Lizzie rushes in and presses Laura to “Come and kiss me./Never mind my bruises,/Hug me, kiss me, suck my juices/Squeezed from goblin fruits for you,/Goblin pulp and goblin dew … For your sake I have braved the glen/And had to do with the goblin merchant men.” (466-474). The sexuality of the poem shifts to the sisters, who are clearly intimate with each other, as we can gather from the language Lizzie uses, and the reader knows earlier in the poem as well that kissing is a common occurrence between these two sisters. Laura rushes forward and “Clung about her sister,/Kissed and kissed and kissed her:” (486-487), and in a violent way, has her youthfulness, her worth restored to her. This scene is a clear connection to the importance of the sisterly bond, but one cannot help but note the physicality between the two girls.

Goblin Market is a poem that is incredibly direct yet discrete about the sexual messages. Much like a Disney movie, the aim towards children is clear, but the writers will often throw something in for the parents to have a laugh at. For instance, another moral tale about sisterly bonds, Frozen, presents a few suggestive jokes and comments made by characters that will go missed by children, but unmissed by parents. One such joke is a reference to the shoe size being representative of male genitals, like in this linked scene. Granted, the scene in Frozen is so subtle one may not make the connection, while the scenes from the poem are heavy handed, but some who read Goblin Market may miss the images before them until they begin searching. Rossetti seemingly crafts an incredibly interesting poem about sexual experiences and disguises it as something about a sisterly bond.



Work Cited:

Rossetti, Christina. “Goblin Market.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature.
Gen. ed. Stephen Greenblatt. 9th ed. Vol. E. New York: Norton, 2012. 2145-49.

Hidden Beneath the Surface of Goblin Market

Of the many ideas, concepts, and events of the Victorian Period, the Victorian Temper emerged, and quickly became evident through the writing of the era. In a time where individuals favored earnest behaviors, moral responsibility, and domestic propriety, the Victorian Temper, while it helped to further encourage these behaviors, also urged individuals to repress and discourage any and all notions of reproduction and sex. While the prospective outcome of the Victorian Temper may have been to form a pure society in which individuals are free and cleansed of sexual thoughts and desires, the result may have been the complete opposite. According to Sigmund Freud, because the individuals of the Victorian Period worked with great force to repress all reproductive desires and urges, the people of the period may have thought about sexual encounters more than any other group, as they constantly made efforts to repress these thoughts; however, they remained beneath the surface. Though the people of the Victorian Period made efforts to repress such ideas, and worked to refrain from using sexual concepts explicitly in their conversations, many poets and writers of the period, perhaps accidentally, due to the force of the repression, included implicit sexual and reproductive cues in their writing. In particular, Christina Rossetti’s poem, Goblin Market, may, on the surface, appear to present a story of two children in a rather innocent and imaginary, fairy-tale like manner, the poem presents sexual connotations to the reader, suggesting that Rossetti, herself, may have sexual feelings that she tries to keep hidden, beneath the surface.

While Rossetti claims to write an innocent and imaginary story, she reveals certain implicit sexual connotations to the reader from the beginning of the text. While initially describing the Goblin cries, Rossetti explains, “Maids heard the goblins cry: / “Come buy our orchard fruits, / Come buy, come buy: / Apples and quinces”(Rossetti 1496). Here, Rossetti begins by depicting that “Maids,” which are young and unmarried girls, are able to hear the “goblins cry.” The idea that only “Maids” are able to hear the cries of the goblins appears to relay that the cries are only audible to virgin ears. The goblins then offer many fruits, which are all very different. The first fruit that Rossetti relays is an “Apple,” which appears to be a direct reference to the Christian religion’s story of Adam and Eve, in which the initially pure characters gave into temptation, and consumed the fruits, specifically, the “Apples,” of the forbidden tree. By starting off her list of fruits with “Apples,” Rossetti appears to imply that the pure and untouched “Maids” that she initially depicted, if they were to consume these fruits, will be giving into temptation, and, just like Adam and Eve, risk losing their purity. Though Rossetti may claim to depict an innocent story of children and fruit, the language, and order of her words, appears to suggest that Rossetti’s own implicit reproductive feelings are beginning to present themselves in her story.


(The Apple of temptation leads to a loss of innocence. Adam and Eve Apple. Sargents Fine Art. Web.)

Rossetti’s sexual implications continue to present themselves through Rossetti’s depictions of fruit in her text. While Rossetti continues to relay the cry that the “Maids” can hear, she writes, “Apples and quinces, / Lemons and oranges, / Plump unpecked cherries”(Rossetti 1496). Here, Rossetti depicts a range of fruits, all of which are plump and round, which appears to be symbolic of female bodies, which are known for their curvature, especially after the age of puberty. This is significant,   and contain juice within them.] Rossetti also describes “Plump unpecked cherries.” Using these adjectives to describe cherries suggests a deeper connotation behind Rossetti’s word choice. “Plump unpecked cherries,” are small and round red fruits, often connected to one another by a small stem, which appears to be symbolic of fallopian tubes, an aspect of female bodies. The depicted “plump” nature suggests that the “cherries” are rather large and juicy. Their claimed “unpecked” nature suggests that the “cherries” are pure, untouched, and in excellent and unused condition. The “unpecked” and untouched nature of the cherries appears to relate back to Rossetti’s initial depiction of the virginal “Maids,” relaying that the innocent girls are “unused,” likely in a sexual nature. This seems to suggest a deeper connotation behind Rossetti’s words. While Rossetti may claim to write innocently about fruit, here, she writes about fruits that are round, plump, and juicy, which appears to relay that Rossetti’s sexual feelings are beginning to present themselves from the start of the work.

Rossetti continues to depict sexual undertones as her work continues. While describing Laura’s initial encounter with the goblins, Rossetti writes, “She clipped a precious golden lock, / She dropped a tear more rare than pearl”(Rossetti 1499). Here, Rossetti writes that Laura “clipped a precious golden lock,” suggesting that she cut a sacred and pure piece of her hair, effectively “clipp[ing]” a piece of herself, or, perhaps, an element of who she is. Laura then “dropped a tear more rare than pearl,” which suggests that Laura became saddened, and a piece of herself, more precious and pure than an untouched orb, has fallen. Rossetti appears to depict that Laura has lost, or “dropped,” her own pureness, or, in other words, her own virginity. This seems to reinforce Rossetti’s depiction of “Maids” giving into temptation, as previously discussed, as, through her language, Rossetti appears to further depict that the “Maids” are giving into temptation, and, as a result, lose a “precious” piece of their “golden” purity. Though Rossetti may have intended to write an innocent portrayal of a girl interacting with goblins, through her depictions of a woman “drop[ping]” “golden” and pure pieces of themselves, Rossetti appears to imply a loss of virginity, subtly adding her own sexual feelings and implications to her work.

The actions and sensations with which Laura lost her virginity become blatantly clear in the following lines, where Rossetti writes that Laura, “Then sucked their fruit globes fair or red: / Sweeter than honey from the rock. / Stronger than men-rejoicing wine, / Clearer than water flowed that juice”(Rossetti 1499). Here, Rossetti depicts that Laura “sucked,” actively, using her own mouth, “their fruit globes fair or red,” implying that Laura orally interacted with the round, plump, and juicy fruit “globes,” of all varieties or colors, “fair or red.” After implying of this interaction, Rossetti elaborates upon Laura’s sexual enjoyment of the experience. Rossetti  claims that the round and plump fruits that Laura was “suck[ing]” “flowed” a certain “juice,” which Rossetti writes were “Clearer than water.” Suggesting that her female character “sucked” orbs that began to “flow” a certain “juice” appears to symbolize that Rossetti is depicting her character engaging in a sexual act, as her act of “suck[ing]” on globes, before “juice” begins to “flow,” further implies Laura’s oral intercourse, which Rossetti depicts results in a sort of ejaculation, a “flow[ing]” of “that juice.” [sexual encounters, organs.] Rossetti writes that Laura “sucked” fruits that were sweet, and the fruits had a powerful grasp upon Laura, further depicting that Rossetti’s own sexual undertones were presenting themselves through her writing.


(Round fruit globes with juice inside. Medical News Today. Web.)

Rossetti continues to use language that presents her own repressed sexual feelings within her work. As Laura continues to passionately enjoy the goblin’s fruit for the first time, Rossetti writes, “She never tasted such before, / How should it cloy with length of use? / She sucked and sucked and sucked the more / Fruits which that unknown orchard bore; / She sucked until her lips were sore”(Rossetti 1499). Here, Laura is depicted as experiencing a new sensation, through the fruit, of which she has “never tasted” previously. Having previously been described as an innocent and untouched “Maid,” it appears increasingly evident that Rossetti is writing Laura’s encounters in a sexualized manner, as she repeats the word “sucked,” and she describes that Laura did so, until her “lips were sore.” Rossetti uses words, such as “taste,” and “suck,” which reinforce her sexualizations of Laura’s situation, depicting that Laura became increasingly involved in an oral activity that closely resembles oral intercourse. Rossetti’s implicit sexual undertones present themselves through her writing, as, while Rossetti may have intended to depict an innocent scene of Laura enjoying fruit, the language that she used is blatantly reproductive, suggesting the repression of her own deep sexual feelings.

Rossetti’s repressed sexual feelings continue to emerge through her writing, as she presents more reproductive implications as her work continues. While reflecting on her experience to Lizzie, Laura says, “I ate and ate my fill, / Yet my mouth waters still; / Tomorrow night I will buy more:” / and kissed her…”(Rossetti 1499). Here, Rossetti emphasizes that Laura “ate and ate [her] fill,” repeating her action of ‘eating,’ suggesting that Laura engaged in physical and natural acts of consumption, until she became satisfied. Rossetti continues to draw upon Laura’s “mouth,” in a seemingly objectifying manner, suggesting that her oral fixation is her main source for pleasure. Rossetti appears to further relay her own repressed sexual feelings, as she frequently mentions “mouth[s]” throughout the work, and oral satisfaction, rather than, say, a character’s stomach, after consuming “fruit.” Focusing solely upon oral satisfaction, which is further reinforced by Rossetti’s depiction that Laura immediately “kissed her” sister, it appears that Rossetti may be further implicitly symbolizing oral intercourse, as she places a heavy focus on “mouth[s],” and oral actions. Because she only focuses primarily upon oral aspects and satisfactions, and never mentions a satisfied stomach after consuming “fruit,” it would appear that Rossetti’s own implicit and repressed sexual feelings are presenting themselves through her writing.

Rossetti’s repressed sexual feelings continue to present themselves within her work. While Laura presents the details of her previous pleasurable encounter, she explains that, “You cannot think what figs / My teeth have met in, / What melons icy-cold / Piled on a dish of gold / Too huge for me to hold, / What peaches with a velvet nap, / Pellucid grapes without one seed”(Rossetti 1499). Rossetti continues to describe fruits that are plump, round, and juicy, suggesting that Laura experienced her own pleasure through her interactions with items of this nature. Here, it appears that Rossetti’s own repressed sexual feelings present themselves, as she describes that Laura’s “teeth have met in” the fruit, or, in other words, that Laura has orally penetrated “in[to]” these plump and juicy items. Rossetti describes the fruits in a sexual manner, claiming that they were “Too huge for [Laura] to hold.” After revealing Laura’s oral penetration, it appears, here, that Laura may become involved in further penetration, or, amid her pleasurable experience, the sexual satisfaction may have been too great “for [her] to hold,” and, in response, Rossetti appears to depict Laura’s experience of sexual ejaculation. This becomes further evident, as Rossetti follows this with depictions of “grapes without one seed,” suggesting that the once juicy and round fruits have, perhaps temporarily, lost their fertility, or, their own “seed.” Though Rossetti may claim to portray a young girl’s innocent explanation of the fruits she enjoyed, Rossetti’s words suggest aspects of fertility, such as penetration, and “seed[s],” which carry reproductive undertones, suggesting that her own repressed sexual feelings are presenting themselves in her writing.


(Oral satisfaction; “You cannot think what figs My teeth have met in.” Lausanne Tourisme. Web.)

Rossetti’s repressed sexual feelings continue to present themselves through her writing. While explaining Lizzi’s plea to Laura that they return home for the evening, Rossetti writes, “Come with me home. […] Let us get home before the night grows dark: / For clouds may gather / Tho’ this is summer weather, / Put out the lights and drench us thro’: / Then if we lost our way what should we do?”(Rossetti 1501). Here, Rossetti employs multiple aspects of weather in her writing. By describing that “clouds may gather / Tho’ this is summer weather,” Rossetti appears to relay that the “summer” sun is shining, illuminating light, which appears to symbolize purity, and brightness, upon her characters. In this way, Rossetti appears to be referring to her previous depiction of her female characters as pure “Maids,” using the sun to emphasize their innocence, in this scene. Lizzi suggests that “clouds may gather,” suggesting that, if the innocent females are not careful, and give into the temptations, as previously discussed, “clouds” may gather, and the “light” which illuminates the girls may become obstructed, and “Put out.” The girls would then be subjected to a certain evil “dark[ness]” of the covered sun, and their innocence would be “drench[ed],” covered, in water. Rossetti then asks, “if we lost our way what should we do?”, reinforcing the idea that, if their innocent “way[s]” were to be lost, and “drench[ed],” or, if they gave into temptation, likely through the enjoyment of previously discussed sexual pleasures and satisfaction, the once innocent girls would not what to “do.” Through Rossetti’s depiction of her character’s plea, and her emphasis on weather, of which she presents in a manner that suggests the consequences of giving into temptation, it appears that Rossetti’s own repressed sexual feelings are presenting themselves, implicitly, through her writing.


(If we lose our way, clouds may gather, and we may be drenched in darkness. Wallpaper Up. Web.)

Rossetti’s repressed sexual feelings continue to implicitly present themselves through her writing. While Lizzie encounters the Goblins, Rossetti writes, “Tho’ the goblins cuffed and caught her, / Coaxed and fought her, / Bullied and besought her, / Scratched her, pinched her black as ink, / Kicked and knocked her, / Mauled and mocked her”(Rossetti 1505). Here, Rossetti depicts that her female character is “cuffed,” which limits her mobility, which is often used in certain sexual fetishes, blatantly suggesting that Rossetti’s repressed sexual feelings are boiling to the surface. Rossetti then depicts that her female character is “caught,” which serves to objectify her, depicting that she is under the control and restrain of the “goblin” men. Rossetti then focuses heavily upon movements and verbs, as she emphasizes several words that describe action. Using these words, Rossetti appears to depict that the goblin men are forcing themselves upon Lizzie, and that the creatures are treating Rossetti’s female character as though she were an object, to be acted upon, by the goblins, against her will. While Rossetti may have intended to write an innocent scene regarding a child’s interaction with goblin men, by depicting that the goblins are forcing themselves upon Lizzie, who is “cuffed,” and restrained, in very physical manners, it appears that Rossetti’s own implicit sexual feelings and desires are presenting themselves, through her writing.

Rossetti continues to implicitly express her own repressed sexual feelings through her story, as she depicts interactions with the “mouth” of her female character. As Lizzie refuses the Goblin’s forceful advances, Rossetti writes, Lizzie uttered not a word; / Would not open lip from lip / Lest they should cram a mouthful in”(Rossetti 1505). Here, Rossetti uses words that signify physical movements, such as “cram,” and “lodge,” which represent actions, specifically insertion, which appears to further symbolize penetration, in this piece. Rossetti reinforces these symbols of penetration by writing that Lizzie “Would not open lip from lip,” with “lip,” appearing to represent, and symbolize, female sexual organs, specifically the vagina. Rossetti depicts her symbols of penetration by writing, “Lest they should cram a mouthful in.” The use of the word “in” further emphasizes the theme of penetration, and Rossetti’s use of the word “cram” suggests that “they,” the goblin men, are forcibly attempting to penetrate Lizzi, with a “mouthful” of their own object(s). Once again, Rossetti depicts “mouth[ful]s,” suggesting that her female character is being subjected to oral penetration, by the goblins, and her female character’s “mouth,” is an object that the goblins are attempting to physically “cram” their items within. In this way, Rossetti’s repressed feelings, of reproduction, and of oral intercourse, appear to present themselves, through her writing.

Biting an apple

(“Lest they should cram a mouthful in.” Pure Devotion. Web.

Rossetti’s repressed sexual feelings appear to present themselves, as she uses sexualized language, sensations, and gestures, in her writing. While the goblins finish physically forcing themselves upon Lizzie, Rossetti writes, “But laughed in heart to feel the drip / Of juice that syruped all her face, and lodged in dimples of her chin, / And streaked her neck which quaked like curd”(Rossetti 1505). Here, Rossetti depicts many aspects of liquids, and the sensations that they provide to her female character’s skin. Through her description of “juice that syruped all her face,” Rossetti suggests that her female character is experiencing rather thick fluids releasing themselves over “all her face,” which appears to depict that her face has been ejaculated upon, and she is able to “feel the drip” of the fluids. Furthermore, Rossetti claims that these liquids “lodged” themselves within her female character’s skin, which appears to symbolize seminal ejaculation, while further emphasizing Rossetti’s theme of penetration. Though Rossetti may claim to have written an innocent story about children and goblin creatures, through her use of language, which appears to depict penetration and ejaculation, it seems that Rossetti’s own repressed sexual feelings are presenting themselves, through her writing.

Rossetti’s repressed sexual feelings continue to implicitly present themselves through her writing. After Lizzie returns from her own encounter with the Goblins, and greets Laura, Rossetti writes, “Come and kiss me. / Never mind my bruises, / Hug me, kiss me, suck my juices / Squeezed from goblin fruits for you, / Goblin pulp and goblin dew. / Eat me, drink me, love me; / Laura, make much of me: / For your sake I have braved the glen / And had to do with goblin merchant men”(Rossetti 1506). Here, Rossetti further objectifies her female character, as she depicts her character’s desire to act upon her, in various physical ways. Rossetti sexualizes this scene, as the physical movements that she mentions all represent affectionate and sexual actions. Rossetti uses words such as “suck,” “Eat,” and “drink,” with regards to “me,” which further relate to oral acts of consumption, as though Rossetti is suggesting that her female character is an item for oral pleasure and satisfaction. Rossetti also continues to depict liquids, which were “Squeezed from goblin fruits,” which appears to further suggest ejaculation, as these thick fluids and “dew[s]” where physically “squeezed” from fertil goblin “fruits,” which seems to symbolize their own reproductive organs. Though she may claim to have written an innocent story about a child’s return from goblins, and their fruit, because of the language, which seems to depict physical movements, consumption, and oral satisfaction, Rossetti’s own implicit and repressed sexual feelings appear to present themselves, through her writing.


(“Hug me, kiss me, suck my juices.” 123rf. Web.)

During the Victorian Period, individuals favored earnest behaviors, moral responsibility, and domestic propriety. The Victorian Temper emerged, which, while encouraging these behaviors, encouraged individuals to repress any and all notions of sexual reproduction. Because of the sheer force with which these reproductive feelings were repressed, some aspects of these ideas, though buried beneath the surface, appear to present themselves through the writing of the period. For instance, Christina Rossetti, though she may claim to write an innocent story, she depicts several sexual undertones in her piece, Goblin Market. In Rossetti’s work, she uses language to depict seemingly pure topics in a rather sexualized manner. Rossetti depicts “fruit[s],” which are all plump, round, juicy, and “unpecked,” which appear to symbolize the curvature and roundness of female bodies. Rossetti also describes physical movements, such as “suck[ing]” and “cram[ming],” which appears to symbolize sexual actions, along with means of oral satisfaction, and oral intercourse. Rossetti also places an emphasis on “juices,” elaborating upon their thickness, and “syrup[-like]” quialities, which appear to depict reproductive ejaculation. Finally, Rossetti elaborates upon the sensations that each of these items and actions provide, upon the “face” of her female character. Though Rossetti may claim to have written an innocent and imaginary story about children, her word choice, and use of language, all suggest sexual symbols and implications, suggesting to readers that Rossetti’s own repressed sexual feelings may be presenting themselves, through her writing.

To continue learning about the Victorian Period, please watch the video below.


Works Cited

123rf. Web. 

Adam and Eve Apple. Sargents Fine Art. Web. 

Lausanne Tourisme. Web. 
Medical News Today. Web. 
Pure Devotion. Web. 

Rossetti, Christina. “Goblin Market.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Volume E. Print.

Wallpaper Up. Web.