Porphyria's Lover, And Goblin Market, By Christina Rossetti

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Departing from the romantic era 's focus on sublimity and the idea of a supernatural monster, the victorian gothic period focuses on a rather different kind of evil; that of the inhumane, instinctive criminal. This fixation on human monstrosity and its effects can be seen repeatedly in victorian poems, oftentimes with the man – or man equivalent monster – committing some kind of atrocity towards an undeserving maiden, who provokes said monster only by being a physical manifestation of purity, the antithesis of what he is. Both Porphyria 's Lover, by Robert browning, and Goblin Market, by Christina Rossetti, explore the duality of eroticisation and demonization of the female form – which acts as a manifestation of female desire - by utilising …show more content…
The women in these poems are portrayed as near supernaturally virtuous beings, who are destined to be undermined and damaged by a destructive male force that aims to subvert their purity and make them into fallen women.

Having written Goblin Market in 1859, and subsequently publishing it in 1862, Rosetti claimed - that she had not intended the poem to have been for children, which, considering that the poem is often interpreted as explicitly sexual and a direct rebellion against victorian morality, is understandable. Despite this, it was marketed towards children, as, superficially, it is a story with a moral - much like most other fairy-tales - that warns against trusting strangers, and holds female purity and the unbreakable bond of sisterhood in high esteem. The poem focuses on two sisters, Laura and Lizzie, who live peacefully until Laura, tempted by the Goblin 's offerings of fruit, offers them a lock of her hair and a “tear more rare than a pearl” (Rosetti, 1862) in exchange for
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It exists binarically, being both eroticised for its form and function, and demonised for its desire and will for autonomy. In Goblin Market, the goblins incessantly try to tempt laura into sampling their wares, but the second an exchange is made, the second she “ clipped a precious golden lock” (Rosetti, 1862) and “dropped a tear more rare than pearl” (Rosetti, 1862), the goblins do not want anything to do with her. Having given them a metaphorical encapsulation of her purity, they no longer desire her, as she is soiled, no longer a virgin, and as such, unfit for her role as wife and mother, and therefore, unfit as a woman in general. The demonisation of female bodily autonomy can be seen yet again in Lizzie seeking out the goblins, and how her refusal to give herself up to them and eat their fruit angers them to the point of assault, with their attack being like attempted rape, where she remains still and holy, “like a royal virgin town, topped with gilded dome and spire” (Rosetti, 1862) despite the fact that they “tore her gown and soiled her stocking” (Rosetti, 1862), and manages to “bring back " 'the fruit forbidden '" without tasting it herself - that is, she shows that it is possible... to know good and evil and not succumb to it” (Mermin, 1983). A direct contrast to this depiction of enduring purity and autonomy is the portrayal of

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