Goblin Market

by

Christina Rossetti

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Laura Character Analysis

A young woman who nearly dies after eating the goblin men’s dangerous fruit, and whose emotional suffering, hunger, and physical deterioration provide the dramatic focus for much of the poem. Laura and her sister Lizzie look almost identical, sharing the same ivory skin and golden hair, and both are presented as innocent and loyal young women. However, they differ in one very important respect: whereas Lizzie is cautious, Laura is curious. It is Laura’s curiosity that sets in motion the drama of the poem as the sisters are out gathering water from a brook: instead of following her sister’s advice to avoid the goblin men, Laura makes the decision to stay behind and purchase their fruit with a lock of her hair. This moment represents a symbolic fall from grace, as Laura succumbs to temptation and devours the forbidden fruit. After returning home, Laura craves more; yet, no longer able to hear the call of the goblin men, she becomes listless, ill, and prematurely aged. She is brought to the verge of death, like Jeanie, and saved only by her sister’s willingness to put herself in harm’s way to obtain more fruit. Laura is intended to represent the typical “fallen woman” in Victorian society—that is, the woman who gives in to sexual temptation and has sex outside of marriage. Often, such characters in Victorian literature die or are exiled from their communities. But Laura is saved from this fate by the sacrifice of her sister. In fact, Laura not only recovers from her illness, but goes on to achieve the ideal ending for women in Victorian literature: marriage and motherhood. Thus, although Laura sins—giving a part of herself away in exchange for forbidden fruit—she is still characterized as a pure and morally upright person. This allows the poem to suggest more broadly that fallen women are not irredeemable, and should be granted sympathy rather than shunned.

Laura Quotes in Goblin Market

The Goblin Market quotes below are all either spoken by Laura or refer to Laura. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Temptation and Fallen Women Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of Goblin Market published in 2005.
Goblin Market Quotes

Morning and evening
Maids heard the goblins cry:
“Come buy our orchard fruits,
Come buy, come buy:
[…]
Plump unpecked cherries,
Melons and raspberries,
Bloom-down-cheeked peaches,
Swart-headed mulberries,
Wild free-born cranberries,
[…]
All ripe together
In summer weather,—
Morns that pass by,
Fair eves that fly;
Come buy, come buy:
Our grapes fresh from the vine,
Pomegranates full and fine,
Dates and sharp bullaces,
Rare pears and greengages,
Damsons and bilberries,
Taste them and try:
Currants and gooseberries,
Bright-fire-like barberries,
Figs to fill your mouth,
Citrons from the South,
Sweet to tongue and sound to eye;
Come buy, come buy.”

Related Characters: The Goblin Men (speaker), Laura, Lizzie
Related Symbols: The Goblin Men’s Fruit
Page Number: 5-6
Explanation and Analysis:

Crouching close together
In the cooling weather,
With clasping arms and cautioning lips,
With tingling cheeks and finger tips.
“Lie close,” Laura said,
Pricking up her golden head:
“We must not look at goblin men,
We must not buy their fruits:
Who knows upon what soil they fed
Their hungry thirsty roots?”

Related Characters: Laura (speaker), Lizzie, The Goblin Men
Related Symbols: The Goblin Men’s Fruit, Hair
Page Number: 6
Explanation and Analysis:

Laura stretched her gleaming neck
Like a rush-imbedded swan,
Like a lily from the beck,
Like a moonlit poplar branch,
Like a vessel at the launch
When its last restraint is gone.

Related Characters: Laura, The Goblin Men
Related Symbols: The Goblin Men’s Fruit
Page Number: 7
Explanation and Analysis:

But sweet-tooth Laura spoke in haste:
“Good folk, I have no coin;
To take were to purloin:
I have no copper in my purse,
I have no silver either,
And all my gold is on the furze
That shakes in windy weather
Above the rusty heather.”
“You have much gold upon your head,”
They answered all together:
“Buy from us with a golden curl.”
She clipped a precious golden lock,
She dropped a tear more rare than pearl,
Then sucked their fruit globes fair or red:

Related Characters: Laura (speaker), The Goblin Men (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Goblin Men’s Fruit, Hair
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:

“Do you not remember Jeanie,
How she met them in the moonlight,
Took their gifts both choice and many,
Ate their fruits and wore their flowers
Plucked from bowers
Where summer ripens at all hours?
But ever in the noonlight
She pined and pined away;
Sought them by night and day,
Found them no more but dwindled and grew grey;
Then fell with the first snow,
While to this day no grass will grow
Where she lies low:
I planted daisies there a year ago
That never blow.”

Related Characters: Lizzie (speaker), Laura, The Goblin Men, Jeanie
Related Symbols: The Goblin Men’s Fruit, Hair
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:

Golden head by golden head,
Like two pigeons in one nest
Folded in each other’s wings,
They lay down in their curtained bed:
Like two blossoms on one stem,
Like two flakes of new-fall’n snow,
Like two wands of ivory
Tipped with gold for awful kings.

Related Characters: Laura, Lizzie
Related Symbols: Hair
Page Number: 10
Explanation and Analysis:

She cried “Laura,” up the garden,
“Did you miss me?
Come and kiss me.
Never mind my bruises,
Hug me, kiss me, suck my juices
Squeezed from 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.”

Related Characters: Lizzie (speaker), Laura, The Goblin Men
Related Symbols: The Goblin Men’s Fruit
Page Number: 17
Explanation and Analysis:

“For there is no friend like a sister
In calm or stormy weather;
To cheer one on the tedious way,
To fetch one if one goes astray,
To lift one if one totters down,
To strengthen whilst one stands.”

Related Characters: Laura (speaker), Lizzie
Related Symbols: The Goblin Men’s Fruit
Page Number: 20
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Goblin Market LitChart as a printable PDF.
Goblin Market PDF

Laura Character Timeline in Goblin Market

The timeline below shows where the character Laura appears in Goblin Market. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Goblin Market
Temptation and Fallen Women Theme Icon
Women’s Role in Society Theme Icon
One evening, two young sisters, Laura and Lizzie, hear the goblins’ call as they are collecting water from a brook. Laura... (full context)
Temptation and Fallen Women Theme Icon
Women’s Role in Society Theme Icon
...her sister not to “peep” and covering her own eyes “lest they should look,” but Laura rears “her glossy head” and continues to gaze at the goblin men as they tramp... (full context)
Temptation and Fallen Women Theme Icon
Women’s Role in Society Theme Icon
...a “dimpled finger” in each ear and closing her eyes, Lizzie runs away. The “curious Laura,” however, is transfixed, and makes the decision to linger in the glen with the goblins. (full context)
Temptation and Fallen Women Theme Icon
Women’s Role in Society Theme Icon
Laura watches as the goblin men approach her, and takes notice of each goblin’s appearance. Not... (full context)
Temptation and Fallen Women Theme Icon
Laura stretches her “gleaming neck” towards the goblin men, like a swan or “a vessel at... (full context)
Temptation and Fallen Women Theme Icon
...intensified and urgent, and instead of sounding like cooing doves, they are “shrill.” Upon reaching Laura, they leer and slyly signal to one another. The goblins set out their wares before... (full context)
Temptation and Fallen Women Theme Icon
Women’s Role in Society Theme Icon
Laura stares, but does not move. She desires the fruit but has no money to offer... (full context)
Temptation and Fallen Women Theme Icon
Women’s Role in Society Theme Icon
Laura knows that she ought not to accept the fruit without being able to pay. She... (full context)
Temptation and Fallen Women Theme Icon
Women’s Role in Society Theme Icon
The goblins, however, point to Laura’s golden hair as an adequate payment and urge her to clip one of her curls... (full context)
Temptation and Fallen Women Theme Icon
Women’s Role in Society Theme Icon
Laura immediately begins to suck the fruit that is presented to her. The fruits’ flavor is... (full context)
Temptation and Fallen Women Theme Icon
When she finishes gorging on the fruit, Laura flings the rinds away and gathers up a kernel stone or fruit pit to bring... (full context)
Temptation and Fallen Women Theme Icon
Women’s Role in Society Theme Icon
Lizzie again warns Laura of the dangers of loitering in the glen at midnight because it is haunted by... (full context)
Temptation and Fallen Women Theme Icon
Laura, however, dismisses her sister’s concerns, telling her to “hush.” Laura explains that although she ate... (full context)
Temptation and Fallen Women Theme Icon
Women’s Role in Society Theme Icon
The following morning, Laura and Lizzie awaken to the sound of a cock crowing. Immediately, they begin their usual... (full context)
Temptation and Fallen Women Theme Icon
Women’s Role in Society Theme Icon
Finally, evening arrives and Laura and Lizzie set out with their pitchers to draw water from the brook. While Lizzie... (full context)
Temptation and Fallen Women Theme Icon
Women’s Role in Society Theme Icon
Laura refuses to come away, loitering among the rushes in hope that the goblins will return.... (full context)
Temptation and Fallen Women Theme Icon
Women’s Role in Society Theme Icon
For several days and nights, Laura silently keeps watch in hope that the goblins will reappear, but she never sees or... (full context)
Temptation and Fallen Women Theme Icon
Women’s Role in Society Theme Icon
Salvation and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Lizzie, full of tenderness for her sister, can no longer bear to see Laura suffering. Unlike Laura, Lizzie continues to hear the goblins’ cry each night and morning. Lizzie... (full context)
Temptation and Fallen Women Theme Icon
Women’s Role in Society Theme Icon
Salvation and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...flavor if it is transported from the glen. Lizzie continues to refuse, however, explaining that Laura is waiting at home for her, and she tells the goblins to toss her back... (full context)
Temptation and Fallen Women Theme Icon
Women’s Role in Society Theme Icon
Salvation and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...the goblins but pleased to have escaped with her coin. Her kind intentions to help Laura cause her to quicken her pace. When she reaches the garden, she cries out to... (full context)
Temptation and Fallen Women Theme Icon
Salvation and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Laura leaps up from her chair and pulls at her hair. She fearfully asks Lizzie if... (full context)
Salvation and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Clinging to her sister, Laura begins to kiss Lizzie. With that kiss, tears return to refresh Laura’s once-dry and shrunken... (full context)
Salvation and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Throughout the night, Lizzie keeps watch over Laura. She takes on the role of a nurse, counting Laura’s pulse and checking her breathing,... (full context)
Temptation and Fallen Women Theme Icon
Women’s Role in Society Theme Icon
Salvation and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Years pass, during which Laura and Lizzie have become wives and mothers, and they worry about the safety of their... (full context)