The Rossetti’s Forbidden Desires
Christina Rossetti’s “Goblin Market” exposes the ideas and looks placed on women while also combining shocking concepts for that time. Within the poem the reader will clearly see the sexual tones being used throughout this piece when discussing the fruit and sister’s actions. With the ‘stronger’ sister being able to resist the temptation and bring back juice on herself for her sister, “hug me, kiss me, suck my juices / squeezed from the goblin fruits for you” (Rossetti), which has the female and female sexual undertone that wasn’t properly known during the time it was published. Could this poem been taken seriously?
The use of fruits is one feature which stands out to me because of the Adam and Eve biblical story of the apple –the forbidden fruit, or in this case fruits. In both a young woman is seduced to eat the fruits and has evil, snake, or goblins entice them. It’s a standard good versus evil plot. The matching ideas create a more complex meaning for the readers to dissect. The fruit can become a symbol for virginity which is then stolen by the ‘men’ goblins from the market. Through tasting their fruit, you can no longer hear their calls which plays into the tones of men only interested in corrupting the innocent women. This idea of innocence and betrayal is overcome by the women’s strength to beat the goblins when we discover the ending. Through the help of another woman, who happens to be her sister, she is cured of her madness.
Another Rossetti, Dante’s “Jenny” has similar ‘fallen woman’ aspects compared to his sisters. “Jenny” portrays a man who is having a discussion with himself while a woman prostitute sleeps on his lap. His ideas illustrate him as making himself seem an intellectual while she is lower than him and is compared to an object that he is studying. In both of these poems we see a gender divide of males being put in a higher position whether it is seducing in “Goblin market” or judging in “Jenny.” In Dante Rossetti’s piece the man seems to not help his claims in the sense that he is there visiting the girl while discussing the bad outlooks on prostitution. He doesn’t take in account his own actions. While in Christina Rossetti’s she has the men as goblin creatures and in no way good or nice light. Both of these pieces have one-sided outlooks with portraying men in a not so great light. Is there merit to this or does it make the poem lose value?
In all, both of these pieces take the unspoken and produce them for everyone to see whether they understand it or simply read them for enjoyment. In the end, I suppose both authors successfully conveyed their messages for readers far in the future to enjoy and study. The gender stereotypes exposed and discussed throughout the works are still brought up in today’s society for debate. Even with huge movements along with these ideas such as women’s freedom of sexuality. We can only continue to look forward to see whether this seemingly never ending debate ends.
Rossetti, Christina. “Goblin Market.” The Longman Anthology of British Literature. Fourth ed. Vol. 2B. New York: Pearson, 2010. 1650-663. Print.
Rossetti, Dante. “Jenny.” The Longman Anthology of British Literature. Fourth ed. Vol. 2B. New York: Pearson, 2010. 1623-632. Print.