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Character Analysis in Goblin Market
Laura: The more impulsive and chaotic of the two sisters in the poem, Laura initially goes against the rules she’s known all her life, engaging with the goblins and eating their fruit. However, Laura’s actions cause her to live in misery and want as she struggles for redemption. Eventually Laura is saved, and she is able to recognize her wrongdoings and share them with others to offer enlightenment on the evils of temptation.
Lizzie: The more practical of the sisters in the poem, Lizzie is always described as good, virtuous, and pure. She listens to the rules and doesn’t give into the temptation of the goblins like her sister does. Upon learning of her sister’s misery and struggle, Lizzie nearly sacrifices her life in order to save her sister. Her actions of sacrifice and love allude to the biblical Jesus Christ.
The Goblins: Ugly creatures who move in unusual ways, the goblins exist in contrast to the two sisters; while the girls are lovely and pure, the goblins are ugly and soiled. They trick unsuspecting girls into buying their fruits only to leave them in a state of despair. The role of the goblins alludes to the story of the biblical Eve’s temptation in the Garden of Eden, with the goblins representing the devil.
Character Analysis Examples in Goblin Market :
"White and golden..." See in text (Goblin Market )
The colors Rossetti uses to describe Lizzie are important. White and gold symbolize purity and divinity. Angels are often depicted in these colors, draped in white robes and graced by a floating golden halo above their heads. Lizzie is depicted this way because of her continued purity, even when confronted with temptations of the goblins and their delicious but wicked fruit.
"to make her eat...." See in text (Goblin Market )
It is crucial that Lizzie does not eat the fruit. By not doing so, she maintains the purity of her soul, even as the goblins besmirch her with the juice of their wicked fruits. This decision marks the climax and turning point of the story. By weathering the storm of temptation, Lizzie will put herself in a position to heal Laura.
"And for the first time in her life Began to listen and look...." See in text (Goblin Market )
In order to plunge into the territory of the goblins, Lizzie must focus her senses and attune herself to the strange environment. She must “beg[in] to listen and look” in ways she has not needed to before. This mission will push Lizzie to the edge of her abilities and test her character in new ways.
"Eat me, drink me..." See in text (Goblin Market )
Lizzie’s speech when she returns from her trial with the goblins mimics the Eucharist, a Christian ceremony in which wine and bread are consecrated and then eaten to symbolize or embody Jesus’s Last Supper. In this ceremony, the priest will repeat Christ’s words, “take this, eat, this is my body broken for you; take this, drink, this is my blood.” Lizzie’s “eat me, drink me” command invokes these words and compares her to this religious figure.
"And gnashed her teeth for baulked desire,..." See in text (Goblin Market )
The adjective “baulked” means “stopped” or “prevented.” Laura is tormented by her overwhelming and unquenchable desire for the goblin fruit. She is so tormented that she begins to act like the goblins. She “gnash[es] her teeth” in an aggressive, animalistic, goblin-like manner. She is paying the price for her reckless pursuit of pleasure.
"Leering..." See in text (Goblin Market )
The verb “leering” means to look at something with an expression of slyness, malignity, or immodest desire. Leering connotes malicious intention or evil. The use of this verb further emphasizes the bad intentions of these goblins.
"dimpled..." See in text (Goblin Market )
The adjective “dimpled” means plump, chubby, or fat. Generally dimples connote innocence, youth, or purity. Lizzie uses her “dimpled fingers” to shut out the dangerous noise of the goblins and their temptation, signifying that Lizzie is innocent and pure down to her fingers.
"Hobbling..." See in text (Goblin Market )
The goblins are characterized as beastly and decrepit. The verb “hobbling” signifies moving in an uneven, clumsy, or otherwise graceless manner. It is generally used to connote old age or corruption. This depiction of the goblins sharply contrasts the innocent, golden depiction of the two girls: the goblins are corrupted while the girls are innocent.
"Like a rock of blue-veined stone ..." See in text (Goblin Market )
In this simile, Lizzie is depicted as a “blue-veined stone.” The color of her veins, and therefore blood, in this simile is important. Blue blood is an expression that characterizes old, noble, upper-class ancestry. This adds to the divine aspect of Lizzie as she bears the brunt of the goblin men’s aggression to save her sister.
"veiled her blushes..." See in text (Goblin Market )
Notice the different reactions the two sisters have. While Lizzie actively resists her response to the call of the goblins, Laura engages her curiosity. This moment foreshadows that Laura will be the character who is more susceptible to the goblin’s temptations.