‘Locked together in one nest’: The Limitless Polysemy of Rossetti’s Goblin Market

Haythem Bastawy

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    Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market has been the subject of critical debate since Victorian times. Any interpretation of Goblin Market appears to be plausible, but no one single reading successfully becomes the ‘one right total meaning’ of the text. For instance, Gilbert and Gubar combine feminist and psycho-analytical readings of the text, alluding briefly to the sexual and religious meanings, but completely overlooking its Marxist and queer implications. In an authoritative tone they state, ‘Obviously the conscious or semi-conscious allegorical intention of this narrative poem is sexual/religious.’ Helsinger, on the other hand, mainly concentrates on ‘women’s relation’ to the ‘male marketplace’ without being drawn to any of the religious references in Laura’s temptation, the sexual and queer imagery used in depicting the sisters’ solidarity, or the uncanny nature of the goblins. Even Campbell’s ambitious attempt at a feminist, Marxist, psychoanalytic reading falls short of recognizing any religious or sexual value to the poem. I argue in the present paper that a psycho-analytic reading of Rossetti’s Goblin Market could successfully sustain itself, combining elements of Marxist, feminist, religious, sexual and queer readings under the banner of the unconscious.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationImagining the Victorians
    EditorsStephen Basdeo, Lauren Padgett
    PublisherLeeds Centre for Victorian Studies
    ISBN (Print)9780955900464
    Publication statusPublished - 2016

    Publication series

    NameLeeds Working Papers in Victorian Studies


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