Rosetti’s poem “Goblin Market” could well have been an early version of the screenplay for Disney’s Frozen. Although differing in setting and plot, they share remarkably similar characters and character development. In particular, Lizzie’s transformation almost exactly mirrors Princess Anna’s, evolving throughout the story into a profound expression of the greatest extent of love.
In the beginning, the sisters are blissfully happy and unquestioningly close. “Like two pigeons in one nest/ Folded in each other’s wings”, Lizzie is content in her self-assured love for her sister Laura (lines 185-186). They look the same, pale and golden-haired “like two wands of ivory/ Tipped with gold for awful kings”(190). They share daily activities like fetching honey, tidying the house, and taking care of their animals (203-208). In short, Lizzie has a close but uninspected relationship with her sister. It is all that she knows, so she has never had her devotion tested. Lizzie’s relationship with her sister at this point is analogous to Anna’s with Elsa in the beginning of Frozen. It is untested and innocent.
Then comes the test- the deception. Laura feasts on the fruit. This sets her down a path of assured destruction, just as Elsa’s concealed magic ensures that the villagers will hunt her down to kill her.
At first Lizzie hopes that if she ignores the problem, it will go away. She sets about her usual work “with an open heart…content…warbling for the mere bright day’s delight” (210-214). Although she knows that Laura has eaten the goblin fruit, and despite the tragic demise of a girl named “Jeanie” from eating the fruit (147), she chooses to cast the worry from her mind. This is a common reaction family members have to the suffering of other family members- it is scary and unpleasant, and most just hope it’ll sort itself out so they can stop feeling useless and uncomfortable. This is why tragedies like suicides and school shootings often take the families of the perpetrators by surprise; the family members don’t want to notice the warning signs, so they ignore them, allowing the troubled person to suffer alone and find their own solutions.
As her sister wanes away, Lizzie is troubled by the suffering that she cannot share with Laura. She “longed to buy fruit to comfort her,/ But feared to pay too dear” (310-311). Her reasonable fear of the goblins prevents her from buying the fruit for Laura. She is still valuing her own safety above that of her sister. She feels bad, but not enough to face the terrifying goblins and accept walk knowingly into certain doom for herself.
This changes when Laura is finally “knocking at Death’s door” (321). Upon fear of her sister’s immanent death, Lizzie forces herself to contemplate the importance of her sister and inspect their love. The frank inspection of their relationship and how far she is willing to go to protect her sister is a sign of both her loss of innocence, and her character maturing. It is an unpleasant question to face, how far one is willing to go for their family. Most do not have to find out. Lizzie does, making her a hero.
Finally she comes to her conclusion and “weigh[s] no more/ Better and worse” (322-323). By this point, Lizzie has evolved emotionally. Her love has transformed from a mutually convenient, fun, risk-free pleasure to a serious, self-sacrificing commitment. Lizzie no longer weighs her own life above her sister’s. She confronts the goblins and bears their abuse although in all likelihood it will lead to death. Like Anna sacrificing her life for Elsa, Lizzie knows that whatever happens, she probably won’t survive it.
Thus Lizzie’s character achieves its evolution from a simple, rule-following girl who loved her sister because it was a societal norm, to a daring, courageous girl with a heroic and deliberate self-sacrificing devotion to her sister. As in Frozen, the sisters are now able to enjoy a vastly more meaningful connection, and they retain their special bond for life.