Split Sisters and Split Personalities of Goblin Market
"I have 50 different personalities, and still I’m lonely" (Amos). Perhaps everyone is truly composed of multiple personalities embodied within one whole. Whether these split personalities are actual or purely metaphorical, no one human being has a single sided mind, and a single sided position on everything. Within the brain many battles are raged between opposing sides of issues, between the personalities. "Goblin Market" is one of Christina Rosetti’s "sister" poems, a form in which she used sisters to "represent different aspects of the split personality that was caused by conflicting attitudes and mixed emotions towards love" (Bellas 66). The two opposing young sides of a single person’s brain are separated into two different beings, two sisters. During the poem, the two sisters, Laura and Lizzie, contrast and become contrasting opinions and factions on love, femininity, and sensuality, eventually maturing and reconciling their conflicting beliefs into a mutual ground.
"Laura’s love of the fruit is insatiable" (Mayberry 90). Lizzie is a more Victorian image of love "cautious, timid, and tedious" (Mayberry 43). In the Victorian days respectable women were expected to be good Christian women. Rossetti is a demonstration of these expectations. In reference to the awkward moral at the end of the poem Martine Brownley says.
"Undoubtedly that was the only way that the quiet devoted recluse could tolerate what she had procured in the poem. The woman who pasted pieces of paper over the more explicit lines in Swinburne’s poetry could never have faced the actual implications of the stunningly effective parable… which somehow welled up from her unconscious self" (579).
A woman so blatantly brave in her poetry felt the need to cover up its potential meanings by use of a flat plainly stated moral at the end. Lizzie is the sister who conforms to the Victorian expectations of her day. Laura is the wild, passionate sister, unafraid to hold back her feelings. In two of the first lines involving the sisters these personalities are developed. In response to the goblin men "Lizzie veiled her blushes" a modest gesture, hiding her femininity. Laura, however, "bowed her head to hear." The initial impression is of modesty from the act of bowing her head, yet a curiosity is displayed because she bows her head to hear. Lizzie then tells Laura that she "should not peep at goblin men." This warning seems parroted in response. A lesson told by someone that the conservative Lizzie does not question. Despite this warning Laura "rear[s] her glossy head" to look. Laura refuses the warnings of her Victorian era. Laura again refuses to conform and catapults the reader into the story by "chos[ing] to linger/Wondering at each merchant man."
Unlike Lizzie who maintains the reserve taught to her by the Victorian environment, Laura "succumbs to the attractions of the Goblin fruit," (Harrison 114),...