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Plot in Goblin Market

Rossetti's “The Goblin Market” tells the story of two sisters, Laura and Lizzie, who interact with a band of goblins and the sisterly love that saves Laura from a life of suffering. At the beginning of the story, the sisters hear a call from the goblins in the woods and then listen to the cautionary tale of Jennie, who sampled the goods from the goblin market and wasted the rest of her life pining for the fruit.

However, Laura gives into temptation, offering a lock of her hair in exchange for a taste of the goblins’ fruits. Later, Laura discovers that she can’t hear the goblins nor find them. She begins to waste away, much like Jennie. Lizzie recognizes that her sister is dying and seeks out the goblins.

She arrives and resists the temptation of the fruit, angering the goblins enough that they try to force the fruit on her, covering her body in the flesh and juice of the fruits. Lizzie returns to Laura so she can have another taste of the fruit. Lizzie’s actions and the taste cure Laura. The end of the poem follows Laura and Lizzie to adulthood when they retell their children the story of the goblin market and of Lizzie’s sacrifice.

Plot Examples in Goblin Market :

Goblin Market

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"to make her eat...."   (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.

"Mindful of Jeanie:..."   (Goblin Market )

Unlike Laura, Lizzie recalls the cautionary tale of Jeanie and thus enters into the goblin market with a greater degree of wariness.

"Pomegranates, figs.'—  ..."   (Goblin Market )

In the preceding thirty lines, Rossetti gives us a familiar description of the goblins and their fruit. In some cases, the language is identical to that used to depict Laura’s encounter early in the poem. These descriptions immerse us again in the scene of the market.

"pay too dear...."   (Goblin Market )

Lizzie understands the grave cost of the fruit. To buy the fruit would require her to pay with her very life. As much as Lizzie loves her sister, such a cost is simply too great.

"Worn out by her resistance..."   (Goblin Market )

Lizzie’s moment of triumph reinforces the theme of the story: resisting temptation leads to righteousness. Notice too how the goblin men’s failure to make her indulge causes them all to abandon their fruit and vanish. Despite the terrible injuries and humiliation the goblin men put upon her, Lizzie stoically handles the abuse and defeats her tormentors.

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