Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Goblin Market (1862) by Christina Rossetti is a narrative, fantasy poem about two sisters, Lizzie and Laura, who face temptations from goblin men who, on the surface, sell fruit at a market, but whose addictive wares physically debilitate their customers to the point of death. Given that the release of this poem in the thick of England’s Victorian era coincides with the reign of the British Empire, I read and understand it in light of that historical context. In this reading, Goblin Market conveys cultural anxieties about what the British Empire means for England, specifically as it deals with commercial relationships with its subjects. Understanding that this poem covertly showcases cultural anxieties about British imperialism provides just one of many examples of the impact of British imperialism on the literary culture of its time.