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Theme Of Sisterhood In Christina Rossetti’s

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Discuss about the Theme Of Sisterhood In Christina Rossetti’s The Goblin Market.


Christina Rossetti, “Goblin Market” on the topic of SISTERHOOD


This source highlights different and wide ranging perspectives of Jill Rappoport towards “giving”. However, the perspectives are women-oriented. Through the statements of Jill, the women of the Victorian culture have encountered upgradation from the practice of looking after the needs, demands and requirements of her family. This upliftment has resulted in safeguarding their rights and pushing them towards empowerment.  Perceiving these aspects from Christina Rossetti’s The Goblin Market, portrayal of Lizzie and her sister within the market is considered as the commercial devour of their individuality. The pennies, which the sisters pay for buying the juicy fruits is exchanged for the seduction, which the goblins offer. The perspective of the earlier sentence destroys the purity of sisterhood.


The pathetic condition of women maintains continuity even in the Victorian era. Inability to express their desires and longings were trapped under the commercialization with their respect and individuality. However, Jill, through her propositions in this source provides an empowerment to the Victorian era. Browsing through the different interpretations of “exchange”, Fulmer, being the mouthpiece of Jill, gifts women back their rights of freedom and liberty. In view of this gift, the sisters in The Goblin Market become ordinary girls, going to the market to get grocery.  In terms of these connotations, exchange is only the transactions between sisters like Laura and Lizzie and the vegetable sellers.


“Alliance” in terms of women is interpreted only as marriage. “Exchange” means giving the daughters in marriage in exchange of the getting a son-in-law and a share of their family. Both these interpretations nullify the individual sentiments of the girls and women in terms of marriage. However, this source acts as an empowerment for the women in terms of safeguarding their rights. This is one of the greatest strengths of the source. Portrayal of the women in the commercial transactions of the market can be interpreted as the transactions of their dignity and self-respect. In terms of this connotation, the strength turns into weakness, adding to the complexities of women amidst the pressurizations of the patriarchal society.

Attaching the aspect of the sisters in The Goblin Market, exchange of pennies for buying fruits can be just the satisfaction of hunger. This need fulfillment is devoid of the exchange of bodies for experiencing pleasure. Viewing it from the other perspective, the goblins or the vegetable sellers seduce the sisters for making bodily transactions by buying the juicy fruits. The second perspective is a kind of suppression for the women by the goblins in terms of gobbling up the sisters. Typical evidence of this lies in impositions towards squeezing the juices on the body of the sisters and devouring them. In view of their transcendence into the other world, due to the intake of hypnotized and seductive juice, the sisters can be grouped into a class of women, struggling with their futile fates. Herein lays the appropriateness of the word “culture” in terms of projecting the patriarchal culture of the Victorian era. The aspect of sisterhood, projected in the poem can be related with the feminist groups, which fought for the freedom of the women from the shackles of patriarchy. Here lies the gifting of women their rights to vote, is justified.



The source starts with the universal truth regarding the contribution of women behind the success of man. The perspective attached to this statement is marriage, for which the women were prepared since the time; they penetrated into puberty, as it signified their transformation into an adult. This process was prolonged and extracted the individuality of the women. This situation generated frustration and depression among the women, compelling them to leave their houses and take shelter in the communities run by the feminist groups. The struggle of these groups was full of hurdles, which raised doubts in the minds of the women regarding their safety and security. The major drive behind the doubts and dilemmas is the exposure of harsh and orthodox approach by the patriarchy. These aspects are applicable for the culture and community in which Laura and Lizzie live as sisters.


The source is a picturization of Christina Rossetti regarding the community culture of the Victorian era. This picturization is the outcome of women’s confinement within the limitations of marriage. Marriage snatched away the freedom of women, increasing within them the desire of joining community groups, so as to break free from the shackles of the patriarchy. The news of the women joining the community feminist groups reached to men, who made plans to shatter these efforts. The source performs the role of a spy, giving information to the readers regarding the steps taken by the patriarchy to remove the aspect of freedom from the lives of the women. Although the propositions are for the married women, the implications enhance the clarity of the sisters in The Goblin Market in terms of the consequences, which they have to encounter if they regularly go to buy fruits in the community of the goblins.


Feeling sympathetic towards the tragic plight of the women, compelled writers like Rossetti to generalize the issue of commercialization of the women in the public sphere. This generalization was a plea to the society for expressing the pathos of the women and thinking of their upgradation.  Herein lays the appropriateness of forming feminist groups within the communities. The main aim of these groups was inspiring the women for striving for their rights.  To some extent, Laura can be considered as the representative of the feminist groups. Typucal evidence of this lies in her expression of concern for Lizzie when she becomes physically and mentally weak. Countering this, her strength is of no use in comparison to the seductive luring of the goblins. Herein lays the correlation with the cries of the goblins, “come buy come buy”. The evidence of this fact lies in the devouring, which Laura experiences while taking some of the fruits for Lizzie, so that she can lick it from her body. This licking strengthens the blood relationship between the sisters, adding value to the aspect of sisterhood as a whole.  The action of devouring exposed by the goblins is “animalistic”, which makes their male ego aggressive. It is this aggression, towards which the women creations of Rossetti- Bennett sisters in Pride and Prejudice; Laura and Lizzie in The Goblin Market among others are helpless.


The source starts with the reference of The Awakening Conscience, which invokes the consciousness of the women in terms of the need of sister like friend. The efforts put in by the early reformers add value to this source as well as the quest of women towards their need of a companion. However, the main attraction of the source is the segment on Christina Rossetti being an activist towards safeguarding the rights of the Victorian women. The cluster of these feminist groups aligns with the inner essence of the term “sisterhood”, which provided them with the much needed companion. Her abhorrence towards evil gains an important position in the source, igniting a spark for the formation of sister communities. In this connotation, the Laura and Lizzie are Christina’s representative and prime example, which compelled her to think of something for the societal upliftment of the women.


Rossetti’s portrayal as a representative of the suppressed women is the main attraction of the source. Although the source highlights the efforts of the feminists for transformation of the women’s life, the segment of Rossetti and her generalization of the relationship “sister”, through the example of The Goblin Market, is the unique selling proposition of the source. In view of this connotation, it can be said that Lizzie, under the toxic influence of the seductive fruits, gets the care and nourishment of her sister Laura. To the surprise of the readers, Laura also falls prey to the seductive cries of the animalistic goblin. The main purpose of this is the recovery of Lizzie. Herein the introductory quotation of the source is justified in terms of the much needed care and nourishment needed by Lizzie.


The quotation, “No friend like a sister” can be equated with the quotation, “A friend in need is a friend indeed”. Both the quotations take the relationship of sister to the level of friendship, which is a natural behavior among girls in the teenage, similar to the portrayal of Laura and Lizzie in The Goblin Market. Their falling prey to the attractive and juicy fruits merges their identity with the ordinary girls getting attracted by the colorful fruits and vegetables of the market. Here, the readers can identify their fates with Laura and Lizzie, especially the ones who have unfortunately lost their parents in the budding stage. It is at this stage, that the sisters like Laura and Lizzie need to realize that there is no friend like a sister, who will provide the protection from the animalistic goblins (men), who are waiting for an opportunity to devour their purity and innocence.



Mayer, Jed. "“Come Buy, Come Buy!”: Christina Rossetti and the Victorian Animal Market." In Animals in Victorian Literature and Culture, pp. 213-231. Palgrave Macmillan UK, 2017.

Fulmer, Constance M. "Giving Women: Alliance and Exchange in Victorian Culture by Jill Rappoport." Victorian Periodicals Review 46, no. 2 (2013): 279-281.

Rossetti’s, Christina. "“No friend like a sister”." Victorians and the Case for Charity: Essays on Responses to English Poverty by the State, the Church and the Literati (2013): 142.

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