Sexual Violence in “Goblin Market”

Christina Rossetti uses violent words with sexual connotation when describing Lizzie with the Goblins.  I found this quite shocking due to the fact that she was a female writing during the nineteenth century.  Upon first reading “Goblin Market”, I took the strange tale as a reflection upon the Adam and Eve story, but upon further reflection, I found sexual undertones of rape and other violent sexual actions.

The Goblins “trod and hustled her” (309) and “clawed [her] with their nails” (401).  These lines truly exhibit violation of Lizzie’s personal space.  Lizzie is the “Christ-like” character in this poem, but she is beaten by the goblins.  They mock her for her purity and want to stay pure.

The most disturbing line to me was when the goblins “tore her gown and soiled her stockings” (403).  This is the first line that made me think of sexual violation.  They are ripping her clothes off and violating her sacred temple.  My main question, after reading this poem a second time, was, why did Rossetti use sexual innuendos in her poem?  Is she trying to warn her young female readers to abstain for sexual temptation?  Is this a warning?

I don’t know if it is exactly a “warning”, but I think Rossetti is taking a strong stance on the importance of purity.  She finds virginity important and hopes to stay away from sexual temptation like Lizzie.

3 thoughts on “Sexual Violence in “Goblin Market”

  1. The poetess might have Islamic sexual game ‘taharrush gamea’ played in Islamic nations and now reached in Europe too, in her mind while writing the poem.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *