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Historical Analysis

Historical Analysis

            The poem “Goblin Market,” was written by Christina Georgina Rossetti one of the most important poets in 19th century England according to the Victorian Web. The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood or PRB (as it is usually abbreviated) rebelled against conventional academic styles of painting that was modeled upon Raphael (1483-1520) and they sought a freshness and simplicity that was found in works of earlier artists (http://www.pre-raphaelitesociety.org. (Pre-Raphaelite Society par. 4) The Victorian Web also ascertained that Rossetti inherited her artistic tendencies from her father (1). In addition, she was a devout member of the Evangelical branch of the Church of England (1). Rossetti’s poem was published in 1862 and this marked the first literary success of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood to which her brother Dante Rossetti and two others founded (1). Because Rossetti spent a lot of time with her grandfather in the country, this allowed her to be exposed to nature; as such, these themes are frequently intermittent in her poetry. (Pre-Raphaelite Society par 2).  Moreover, Pre-Raphaelite poetry is often characterized by pensive and vague medievalism that mixes religiosity and sensuousness in its language (http://www.pre-raphaelitesociety.org. Nonetheless, David Cody posits that, Rossetti’s poem “Goblin Market,”was the first literary success the Brotherhood enjoyed(par 1). For Rossetti, there was a loose parallel between her fondness for folk songs rhythms and the Pre-Raphaelite  interest in all things medieval (par 1). All the same, Rossetti was part of this movement and she wrote poems about the Brethen and their works and her poetry draws on a long line of medieval tradition as was claimed by George P. Landow (par 1).


lizard.deviantart."Goblin Market"Illustration taken from Google images

lizard.deviantart.”Goblin Market”Illustration taken from Google images


Arthur Rackham's illustration for Christina Rossetti's "Goblin Market" Images taken from Google

Arthur Rackham’s illustration for Christina Rossetti’s “Goblin Market” Images taken from Google


Rossetti was inhibited and shy, she was never fully a part of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood as was noted by David Cody of the Victorian Web. Nevertheless, that notwithstanding, “Goblin Market,” was the first of her literary successes that the Brotherhood had an affinity for (Pre-Raphaelite Society par 1). However, Lesa Scholl writing for the Victorian Web believed that Rossetti alluded to the traditional discourse of the forbidden fruit and she challenged the patriarchal perception of women within the Victorian culture in terms of sexuality, education, and the market place; and Rossetti tried to reconstruct the Christian idea of redemption (1). In “Goblin Market,” Rossetti considered the issue of female sexuality and education; for example, the “Forbidden fruit” makes reference to female sexuality as well as relating to female education and knowledge (1). Besides, it is written in the first book of the bible Genesis that Eve ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Basically, the poem addresses all forms of female desire.

Rossetti used poetic elements especially towards the end of the poem where it affirms the benefits of having a sister, the language is quite descriptive and lush like the senses, and there is a tactile interest in making one wants a taste of the fruits.   She used quite a bit of similes and metaphors and also personification as the close reading of the poem will later portray, and there is of course the rape imagery. The poem has a couple of obvious themes that the reader can draw from. For example, there is the theme of helping one another, as Lizzie exhibited when she realized thather sister was wasting away; she did her utmost to will her back to life. Then, there is the theme of temptation, which has a strong religious connection, Girls should not talk to strangers, and perhaps at the very end of the poem; the theme that resonated would be how precious it is to have a loving and caring sister. The poem does its best to display one of the sisters as the heroine of the story even though there is an erotic under tone in the two sister’s relationship, she must ignore temptation to be able to achieve what she set out to do initially.

In this historical analysis, the reader has been able to deduce the issue of female sexuality, the use of descriptive language like metaphors, similes, and personification, plus the rape imagery as well. The poet tells the story of two innocent sisters and their interactions with deceptive and devious goblins. However, because of the extremely close relationship that existed between the two of them, they were able to defeat the evil machinations of the goblins. Rossetti is said to be daring enough because she intertwined and juxtaposed the two themes of female sexuality and religious symbolism. And the illustrations done by her brother Dante help to emphasize the thematic power of Rossetti’s words.
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