Note 32, Chapter 4 of the author's Christina Rossetti in Context which the University of North Carolina Press published in 1988. It appears in the Victorian web with the kind permission of the author, who of course retains copyright.
Two radically different perspectives on the poem are articulated by Jerome McGann and Sandra Gilbert. McGann reads the poem as a "prophetic" critique of Victorian marriage markets. For him, the poem is designed to convey ,the need for an alternative social order" (NER, 254). For Gilbert, the goblin mens fruits represent the "fruit of art" whose serious pursuit was forbidden to Victorian women (Madwoman in the Attic, 569-71). The most forceful feminist reading of Goblin Market appears in Homans's essay. She argues that Goblin Market "is about Poetic language as well as about female sexuality" and that Rossetti subverts patriarchal and androcentric traditions of romantic lyric in her poem by showing Lizzie "turning [the goblin men's] assault against their intentions, reappropriating their objectification of her body and transforming that Objectification into her own positive strategy. Having been reduced to mere body within a metaphoric [androcentric] economy by the goblins' assault, Lizzie, by understanding herself as inhabiting instead a metonymic economy ... experiences that body as a source of Power!' According to Homans's reading, Goblin Market demonstrates that "the cure of female sexuality subjected to romantic desire is the cure of metaphor into metonymy" ("'Syllables of Velvet,", 589),
Last modified 24 June 2007