Christian values have shaped the way we live and view things. It also shaped the way some poets moralize their poems. Many of them use ideas and concepts from the Bible and other holy rules to display life lessons. More commonly, poets take concepts and stories from the Bible to reinvent them in a present day poem. These ideas and more are installed into the poem "Goblin Market" to illuminate Christian virtues. "Goblin Market" is a poem written by Christina Rossetti based upon temptation, sexual sin, lust, disobedience, promiscuity, and redemption. This poem brought about a lot of confusion during the Victorian era and still faces the same problems today. No one knew the real interpretation of the poem, although Christina said it was a poem for children to understand that there was no friends like a sister, many critics viewed it differently. Some believed the poem was about a drug addiction, others believed it was about the fallen woman of the Victorian period, and some even agreed that it was a children's poem. It is true that the poem could be interpreted in many ways, but if you take a closer look and interrupt the poem piece by piece, you will find that this poem can suggest a Christian allegory.
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The poem first opens up with the description of many fruits for sale such as apples, oranges, strawberries, lemons, melons and much more. These were not just any ordinary fruits and to eat them came with a price. The fruit looked delicious and tempting to eat: "Plump unpecked cherries/ Figs to fill your mouth/ Pomegranates full and fine" (7,28,21). There seemed to be nothing wrong with the fruits but the fruits were a symbolic representation of sin and adultery. When God created Adam and Eva, there were also trees that produce fruits. God told Adam not to eat from a certain tree which was called the tree of knowledge. The fruit may have looked tempting and delicious but it was still not to be eaten because it would cause destruction. The fruit in "Goblin Market" were the same, not to be eaten because it would cause destruction.
Lizzie and Laura, two sisters, in the poem could be represented as Adam and Eve or the spiritual war fair going on inside our minds. When we are about to sin, there is a voice in our mind telling us not to do it and another voice telling us to do it. Lizzie represents the good voice and Laura represents the evil voice. Laura sees the goblin men trying to sell the fruit and wants to buy from them but her sister tells her no. "We must not look at goblin men/ We must not buy their fruits/ Who knows upon what soils they fed/ Their hungry thirsty roots" (42-45)? From the Christian standpoint, Lizzie is seen as the Christ figure or the good voice warning her sister not to fall into the temptation of sin. "Their offer should not charm us/ Their evil gifts would harm us" (65-66). God always warns us before we take action to do something wrong.
Goblin men were the ones selling the fruits. The goblins represented Satan trying to lure people in with temptation to make them sin. The goblin men use the fruits as a way to get people to sell their souls to them. "Sweet to tongue and sound to eye/ come buy, come buy" (30-31) was what they chanted. In the Bible, Satan knew that if Eve was to eat the fruit he would have her soul. Lizzie had more knowledge, knew the tail behind the goblin men, and ran away. Laura stayed and listened to their cries. "She heard a voice like voice of doves/ Cooing all together/ They sounded kind and full of loves/ In the pleasant weather (77-80). The voices coming from the men were like doves to Laura full of love. This voice could represent the ways of Satan. Satan always tries to make something look and sound good when it is wrong.
The goblin men noticed that they had Laura's attention and proceeded to persuade her. They try to make her buy their fruit but Laura has no money. This was the best answer she could have given them. The goblin men didn't want money; they wanted her to sell them her body/soul. "You have much gold upon your head/ They answered all together/ Buy from us with a golden curl" (123-125). Laura cuts a golden lock which represents her purity and innocence and gives it to the goblin men in return for their fruits. In the beginning when God made Adam and Eve, they were pure and innocent and knew no wrong. Eve was seduced by Satan to eat the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge. Eve ate the fruit, gave some to Adam, and caused a curse to be set upon the earth. Laura ate the fruit and caused a cursed to set upon herself. She will never be able to hear the cry of the goblin men again and become sick to the point of death.
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Laura returns home to her sister Lizzie and tells her how delicious the fruits were. She even tells Lizzie that she will return to them tomorrow and bring her back some of the fruit. The next morning they arise to do their daily work. Laura could no longer hear the cry of the goblin men but Lizzie could. "O Laura, come/ I hear the fruit-call but I dare not look/ You should not loiter longer at this brook/ Come home with me" (242-245). Laura had become deaf and blind to the goblin men. It makes perfect sense for her not to hear the goblin men anymore. The men had already lured her in with their temptation and caused her to sin. Her soul was already sold to them so she was no longer any use. Lizzie could still hear them because she was still pure and innocent and they wanted her soul as well.
Laura was sad and constantly wept because she could no longer get to the fruit. She remembers she had a seed from the fruit and tried to plant it but it did not grow. This could represent the spiritual fruits that are mentioned in the Bible. In the Bible, the spiritual fruits show characteristics of the Holy Spirit. Laura's seed never produced fruits because it was a sinful seed. For this instance, she became sick, didn't want to do anymore chores, and would not eat. Lizzie could not bear the sight of her sister in this condition and sacrifices herself for her. She goes to the goblin men and tries to buy their fruit with a penny. The goblin men did not want money but they wanted her body. They knew that if they marked her body with sin that they would own her as well. She did not give in to their temptation and they charged her.
"They trod and hustled her,
Elbowed and jostled her,
Clawed with their nails,
Barking, mewing, hissing, mocking,
Tore her gown and soiled her stocking,
Twitched her hair out by the roots,
Stamped upon her tender feet,
Held her hands and squeezed their fruits
Against her mouth to make her eat" (399-407).
Lizzie did not eat the fruit but the juices from the fruit were all over her body. From the Christian stand point Christ our redeemer was beaten and endured pain for our sins. Lizzie was beaten and endured pain just to redeem her sister and can be seen as the Christ figure.
Beaten and bruised Lizzie rose with the power in her hands. "White and golden Lizzie stood/ Like a lily in a flood/ Like a rock of blue-veined stone/ Lashed by tides obstreperously/ Like a beacon left alone in a hoary roaring sea/ Sending up a golden fire/ Like a fruit crowned orange-tree/ White with blossoms honey-sweet" (408-416). She ran home to her sister Laura and told her to drink the juices from her body so that she may be saved. "Come and kiss me/ Never mind my bruises/ Hug me, kiss me, suck my juices/ Squeezed from the 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" (466-474). During the Last Super, Christ took bread and wine and told his disciples to eat it. The bread was a symbolic symbol of his body and the wine was a symbolic symbol of his blood which was shed for the remissions of our sins. Lizzie used her body as the same symbolic symbol and the juices as the symbolic representation of the wine and saves her sister from death/ sin. Laura becomes well because her sins has be caste away and she is now pure and innocent again. The two sisters marry and live to tell the tale to their children so that they may not make the same mistakes.
Christina Rossetti was a very religious person. She even worked with the "fallen women" of the Victorian Era to help them regain a positive image. It is no surprise that because of her religious views, she wrote poems such as "Goblin Market". "Goblin Market" could be taken as a parable. In the Bible there are many parables that are used to tell a story and leave a message. In "Goblin Market" Lizzie warns Laura not to fall for the Goblin men, who represent Satan, and eat their forbidden fruit but Laura does anyways. Just like we do today, God warns us, by reading the Bible, not to fall into the temptations of the world but we do not always listen. When we fall into sin there is a price to pay. Laura pays her price by becoming ill to the point of near death. The good thing is that Christ sacrificed his son to come and rescue us from the hands of Satan and redeemed us. In the poem, Lizzie is just like Christ who goes to sin (the goblin men) and take the power that will heal her sister. While the poem ends with the theme there is on friend like a sister, it also implies there is no friend like Christ.