Although Christina Rossetti always insisted that "Goblin Market" was a poem for children, it's hard for readers to miss the erotic imagery and sensual language that pervade the poem. Critics and readers have read Laura's temptation to eat the goblin fruit as a metaphor for sex. But if eating the fruit is a metaphor for losing her virginity, how is it that drinking the fruit juice off of her sister's bruised face restores it? The theme of sex is obviously complicated in "Goblin Market," and the poem resists a straightforward allegorical reading. In other words, it's impossible to sum up the poem simply by saying, "eating the fruit = having sex," and then brush off your hands and think that your work is done. But don't worry, that just makes the poem more fun!
Questions About Sex
- Why do so many readers interpret Laura's binge on the goblin fruit as a loss of virginity? Do you agree with that interpretation?
- How is Lizzie able to "cure" her sister?
- Who do you think is the intended audience of "Goblin Market"? Men or women? Children or adults? What makes you think so?
- Why did Jeanie die? And why can't flowers grow on her grave?
- Why did Christina Rossetti deny that "Goblin Market" was anything more than a children's story?
Chew on This
Although Rossetti always staunchly denied it, the loss of sexual purity is central to "Goblin Market"; Rossetti's denial only demonstrates her skillful manipulation of the literary market.
The fruit and garden imagery of "Goblin Market" suggests that Laura is a second Eve; unlike Eve, though, Laura is redeemed, which highlights Christina Rossetti's faith in the potentially redemptive power of female friendship.