“Life Out of Death": Poisons, Antidotes, and the Medical Marketplace in Christina Rossetti's “Goblin Market"
Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Committee Chair School
Committee Member 2
Committee Member 2 School
Committee Member 3
Committee Member 3 School
Christina Rossetti created a unique poem that combines elements of the fantastical, scientific, medical, literal, and allegorical when she wrote “Goblin Market” in 1862. I argue that Rossetti critiques the treatment of women’s bodies in the evolving medical marketplace of Victorian England at the hands of male medical professionals and argues the ability of women to be trusted as medical authorities—even as they were prevented from receiving professionalized medical training—through golden-haired sisters Laura and Lizzie. Rossetti accomplishes this through a unique combination of scientific foundations and Victorian understandings of toxicology, poisons, and antidotes and cloaking her critique of the medical marketplace of Victorian England and Victorian male medical professionals in allegorical and fantastical elements. This unique combination of literal and allegorical is seen through Rossetti’s framing of the fruit of the goblin men as “poison” and the second ingestion of the fruit—carried on Lizzie’s body—as an “antidote.” Furthermore, when viewed as an allegorical representation of male medical professionals of Victorian England, the goblin men of Rossetti’s poem and their brutal physical treatment and acceptance of portions of Laura and Lizzie’s bodies—their golden locks—as payment critiques the objectification and consumption of female bodies within the Victorian medical marketplace.
Hobson, Ashley, "“Life Out of Death": Poisons, Antidotes, and the Medical Marketplace in Christina Rossetti's “Goblin Market"" (2022). Master's Theses. 917.
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