Goblin Market

by

Christina Rossetti

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Themes and Colors
Temptation and Fallen Women Theme Icon
Women’s Role in Society Theme Icon
Salvation and Sacrifice Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Goblin Market, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Temptation and Fallen Women

“Goblin Market” is a complex poetic allegory about sexual temptation. Writing in the mid-nineteenth century, at a time of strict societal expectations regarding women’s behavior, Christina Rossetti was intensely interested in the plight of fallen women—those women who, by society’s standards, were perceived to have given in to the temptation of engaging in sex outside of marriage and who were subsequently shunned. Rossetti’s fairytale-like poem focuses on two sisters, Laura and Lizzie, one of…

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Women’s Role in Society

In “Goblin Market,” Rossetti reflects on the role of women in Victorian society. Victorian men had more freedom, education, opportunity, and leeway to express themselves sexually, but women were expected to remain sexually innocent or face serious consequences. The poem critiques the unfairness of society’s double standards, showing how they put women at a disadvantage, and then challenges them by allowing Laura to achieve a happy ending despite her transgression. However, both Lizzie and Laura’s…

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Salvation and Sacrifice

Lizzie saves her sister, Laura, through an act of self-sacrifice that occurs at the poem’s dramatic climax. Believing Laura to be on the brink of death, Lizzie seeks out the dangerous goblin men and, in doing so, places herself in extreme danger; she risks being tempted, as Laura and Jeanie were, to eat the forbidden fruit, and, although she does not know it when she sets out on this dangerous mission, she will…

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