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Lecture 10

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English 2307E
Krista Lysack

English 2307E Tuesday February 25 Lecture 10 Christina Rossetti Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) • Her family were political exiles from Italy (there was a lot of upheaval at this time) • Her father was an Italian professor • Her family was interested in reading, translation, different languages, politics, and culture • She didn’t go to university, but this wasn’t the typical route for women • She was on track to become a governess, but didn’t because she had some health problems o This was a good thing for her because she didn’t want to do that • She had a couple of marriage offers but turned them down because of religious compatibility • The Rossetti’s were Protestants (and didn’t accept marriages to Catholics) • People thought she lived a secluded life (she lived at home with her family), but she did have a lot of friendships with painters and writers (her brother, a painter, was part of a popular circle of artists, the Pre-Raphaelites) o The Pre-Raphaelites were a group that followed the aesthetic of Raphael  Pre-Raphaelite paintings are popular because they are “lush”  The painting on the cover of your text is a Pre-Raphaelite painting  Sometimes the paintings may look like they’re set in a Medieval past, but there is no specificity (we don’t know exactly where we are in history) • It is an unspecified, fairy tale place o Rossetti’s poem, “Goblin Market” is seen as a good representation of a Pre-Raphaelite painting (a long and lush list of exotic fruits)  There are erotic undertones with an implicit sexuality  Sensuous images, but not in an overt manner “Goblin Market” (1862) • A proliferation of meaning o There isn’t necessarily a fixed meaning o This allows people to give different meanings to the poem • This is a narrative poem (it tells a story) • There are two sisters, Laura and Lizzie o They are very similar, and it can be hard to keep them straight • The setting is radically unspecified o We can’t locate it in history o They seem to be living in a rural paradise  They spend their days churning butter and working on other agrarian tasks • When giving the exotic list of fruits, the poetic lines are very short o It is a long list, but the poem doesn’t seem to need to get through these fruits quickly • “Sweet to tongue and sound to eye” (line 30) o We don’t hear sounds with eyes o This gives the message that they are good fruits • The goblins are calling on their customers to look and gaze at these fruits, but Lizzie says you shouldn’t look (line 49) o The original title of the poem was, “A Peep at the Goblins” (the idea of gazing, what Lizzie warns Laura against doing) o Laura wants to look and taste the fruits, despite the fact that Jeanie’s hair turned grey (she quickly grew old) and she died from eating the fruit • Laura decides to feed on some of the fruits and offers a lock of her hair as payment o She suffers the same fate as Jeanie (starts to die) • Laura tried to plant some of the seeds at home, but it didn’t work o This isn’t possible in the world of the poem – you have to go into the goblin market to get the fruits that they sell • Lizzie is distraught that Laura is dying, and decides she has to give her sister some of that fruit as an antidote • Lizzie encounters the goblins, they don’t want her coin, but attack her o She is able to get some juices from the fruit to feed to her sister and save her o The juices serve as an antidote, and the poem ends on a triumphant note (“There is no friend like a sister”) • The poem talks about the excess of indulgence, and a true friend coming along and helping you to be restored 3 Interpretations of “Goblin Market”: 1. Religious Allegory of the Fall and Redemption • It could be compared to the Genesis story (Adam and Eve) • There is a temptation (the fruit), the goblin temps the sisters with their forbidden fruit (like Satan), Laura is like the Eve figure (she has free choice, but she is tempted by the fruit), and she falls into her spiritual decline from which she must be saved • Lizzie emerges as the Savior o It is somewhat unusual to see a female Christ figure o Lizzie puts herself in danger and the gob
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