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Explain and discuss the themes presented in 'Goblin Market'. Show how Christina Rossetti uses language, imagery and poetic form to reinforce the themes.

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Introduction

Explain and discuss the themes presented in 'Goblin Market'. Show how Christina Rossetti uses language, imagery and poetic form to reinforce the themes. Christina Rossetti's used her poetry to express herself; her work exhibits many autobiographical elements and from it the reader can discern Rossetti's emotions, beliefs and her comments on the society she lived in. As a female poet it would have been improper for Rossetti to deal directly with these issues though and so her ideas are masked through appearing to be children's poetry and having simple meanings. 'Goblin Market' superficially appears to a moral story about two sisters one of whom gives way to the temptation of the goblins forbidden fruits but through her poetic techniques Rossetti manages to embody her fears and desires. One of the desires Rossetti appears to have in this poem is for a relationship similar to that of Lizzie and Laura; the closing lines of the poem express the joys of having a sister "To fetch one if one goes astray", but Rossetti had only brothers. This theme of friendship is crucial to the plot of the poem and maybe Rossetti yearns for someone she can feel close to. ...read more.

Middle

Love is described in the 'Songs of Solomon' as being like "coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame" (Ch8.V9) and Lizzie revives Laura with "juice" that is like "wormwood to her tongue". Another interpretation of 'Goblin Market' is that it could be expressing Rossetti's fear of sexuality. The 'Goblin men' possibly represent men using women for their sexual desires and then discarding them, and it is easy to read sexual connotations into many of the lines in the poem. Laura: Sucked their fruit globes fair or red: Sweeter than honey from the rock. Stronger than man-rejoicing wine, Clearer than water flowed that juice; 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 . . . The language is semi-erotic and images of fruit are often used to represent fertility. Laura seems to gorge herself on the "fruits" but then is discarded by the "goblin men" and left wanting more but unable to find the goblins. ...read more.

Conclusion

"Curious Laura" gives way to the temptation of the goblins even though she knows the dangers while Lizzie runs from the goblins. The poem is possibly allegorical of Christina's relationship with Collinson whom she rejected on religious grounds; Lizzie saving her sister and could represent religion coming before love in Rossetti's life. 'Goblin Market' contains many of the key themes that appear throughout Rossetti's poetry. In typical Rossettian style it appears almost superfluous on first reading but subtexts hidden within it. The casual rhyming scheme suggests that the work is a aimed at being children's poetry but the issues it deals with are distinctly adult. Early in the poem Laura is described as "rearing her glossy head" and much later on Lizzie is referred to as being stubborn as a "horse"; this demonstrates that through repetition and subtle parallels Rossetti manages to show how both sisters are so similar and yet so far apart. Christina Rossetti's use of poetic devices allows 'Goblin Market' to work on several levels allowing her to write poetry both acceptable to the society she lived in while also allowing her to express herself. 1/3 Martin Adams, Goblin Market Essay ...read more.

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