The original ‘Goblin Market’ was a poem written in 1859 (published 1862) by Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830-1894) for her love-lorn sister Maria Francesca. Christina, along with her brother Dante Gabrielle, were associated with the literary and artistic movement termed the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. A poem about young girls and goblins, “Goblin Market” narrates a crisis in the life of two sisters, Lizzie and Laura, and explores topics such as temptation, rapes and self-sacrifice. On a superficial level, ‘Goblin Market’ appears to be nothing more than a playful fable for the youth of the Victorian dynasty.
However through careful examination, the poem reveals deeper, more adult issues. The aim of this essay is to examine these undertones and debate to what extent ‘Goblin Market’ is a poem intended for children. On the poems original publication in 1862, it was a verse aimed at children. This was done so that Rossetti’s social awareness and political annoyances could be masked by her innocent fairytale context. This first becomes evident when the poem’s rhyme and rhythm are revealed in the opening lines.Order now
The line’s “Maids heard the goblins cry; Come buy our orchard fruits, Come buy, come buy” illustrate the poem’s strong rhyme scheme which would undoubtedly appeal to small children as it makes the poem easy and conceivably fun to read, and also allows certain passages to be remembered. This technique is regularly used in nursery rhymes, as it makes them uncomplicated to recite. There are also, throughout the poem, a few classic nursery rhyme lines, such as “put a silver penny in her purse. ” Also as the characters are two young girls, children will be able to relate to them easily.
Yet, although the poems rhyme and rhythm unquestionably appeals to children, it is unfair to say that it would not have appealed to adults as well. It is likely that Rossetti used this technique in order to attract attention from a wider range of ages as opposed to just a small fraction of children. Although the rhyme and rhythm support claims of the poem being for children, it is unfair ground to base an entire judgement. A simple use of rhyme within a poem holds little significance to the poem’s undertones and hidden themes. The use of the term ‘goblin’ has a lot of symbolic and metaphorical importance throughout the poem.
It is used as a reference to men, or more precisely a metaphor in describing the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, an organisation of artists of which her brother, Date Gabrielle, was a member. The lines such as “Who knows upon what soil they had fed, Their hungry thirsty roots” and “Their offers should not charm us, Their evil gifts would harm us” demonstrate Rossetti’s dislike of the male sex, and tell us she saw them as deceiving (deception being a key concept in the poem), and cunning in their ways of gaining what they wanted from their models.
This opinion also shows when the goblins are described having numerous different looks. The lines that read “One had a cat’s face, One whisked a tail, One tramped a rat’s pace, One crawled like a snail” characterise the goblins as being different to one another visually but are all after the same thing.