Images of a Fallen Woman in 'Jenny' and 'Goblin Market'

In the Victorian era, they had coined a phrase they used for a woman who had “lost her innocence.” It about a woman losing to the temptation of committing sexual activities or romantic relationships. The term that was coined for this such behavior was the fallen woman, it wasn’t acceptable morally and socially for a woman to engage in anything unless they were married. I will be talking about Jenny by Robert Rossetti and Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti to show the supposed “fallen woman.” I will first be talking about the same concepts that these two poems have about the fallen woman. Second, I will describe how they are seen and then I will talk about how they should be saved.

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These two poems differ in so many ways, but they have the same aspects of the fallen woman and that they need salvation and get back to their old ways or they need help from the almighty one above God. Within taking both of these poems we can see how both of the authors are raised with the same moral concepts, but we can also see how being from a different gender can change everything in some ways. In Robert Rossetti Jenny there’s a third-person speaking and this man is in the company of a mistress. While in the company of the mistress and her sleeping on his lap, he has moments of him thinking and him talking to himself but how this mistress named Jenny lives her life. In Christina Rossetti Goblin Market, we have more fictional male characters instead of realistic male characters, but if you change the way you see the goblins, we can see how men see and treat a woman. In both poems, we can see how both siblings see man and woman in just some stanza and it’s interesting how they saw both genders.

In the Goblin Market, the story is mostly about two sisters and how one gives in to sexual temptation and she almost loses her life by giving in to the temptation as she is curious and the goblins themselves stand for curiosity. We see goblins targeting women and trying to attract them so they can be lured out of their innocence. “Morning and evening maids heard the goblins cry: “Come buy, come buy… sweet to tongue and sound to eye come buy, come buy”. In this poem, the goblins only seem to exist to tempt the woman of the town to give into buying and eating their fruit, while reading more deeply into the poem you get a sense that they are not talking about fruit. The goblin sells pitch was to effect for one of the sisters that when she encountered one of the goblins, she couldn’t resist them. Even with her sister Lizzie warning her about the situation she didn’t listen because she was being held captive by the goblin seductive language and their fruit. This sends Laura to accept the goblins’ fruit without giving it a second thought, they conceived her to cut her one lock of her golden hair to pay for the fruit.

In the poem Jenny we have a different approach, here we have a man and a woman, they both are in her room and she decides to fall asleep on his lap because she is tired as she is asleep he talks about how beautiful she is and he admires everything about her. In stanza 6 “And from the wise unchildish elf To schoolmate lesser than himself Pointing you out, what thing you are:— Yes, from the daily jeer and jar, From shame and shame’s outbraving too, Is rest not sometimes sweet to you?— But most from the hatefulness of man Who spares not to end what he began, Whose acts are ill and his speech ill, Who, having used you at his will, Thrusts you aside, as when I dine, I serve the dishes and the wine.” In this quote the speaker thinks about her struggles in life as a sex worker are, he thinks about how the people in the city take advantage of Jenny because she is a “fallen woman” and how they only see her as someone that should be ashamed, not for how she is sweet and making money the way she lives. He later blames men for the current state of Jenny’s life.

In the difference of these poems is that Jenny is already a sex worker who is considered into a fallen woman and Laura turns into one, but it is mostly believed that they are to be saved. In Jenny we see what the young man is thinking, he feels sympathy for her and her current way of living, he feels that it isn’t her fault that leads her onto this path of being a sex worker. When he feels bad for Jenny and how she got into her current state, he wonders of the chances she would get into heaven. He then wishes that a pure woman would go to Jenny and help her get out of this situation and help her get pure without Jenny getting hurt. He compares as a rose that’s being pressed in a book and that is slowly being destroyed. Pure women would look upon such a rose and feel pity. While in Goblin Market we have Laura’s sister Lizzie witnessing the changes that her sister is going through such as her hair going grey and her eyes becoming dull and it seems as she is slowly dying.

In additionally with the difference of the poems the only way to save Laura from all this is sisterly-love in this poem is gives us a weird sexual tone when she is getting cures from her sister, Lizzie goes back to buy some fruit and the goblins won’t sell the fruit unless she sits and waits until dawns and they start to get aggressive with Lizzie and they tried to force the fruit her mouth, but she was resisting and with her not opening her mouth so they “She cried, “Laura,’ up the garden, “Did you miss me? Come and kiss me. … suck my juices Squeez’d from goblin fruits for you, Goblin pulp and goblin dew. Eat me, drink me, love me; Laura, make much of me”. With Lizzie coming home she goes rushing to her sister Laura who is in the depth of dying, Lizzie tells her to suck the juices that the goblins put on her while trying to force-feed her their fruit with this she helps her sister recover and she seems to be brought back to life, the color in her eyes and hair are coming back and then later we see that she survives and gets to have children.

In conclusion, both of these poems have different definitions of the fallen woman, but they convey the plot the same way. They also talk about how they try to save these women or they want to see them get to heaven, but only the concepts surrounded religion it what people believe, what if they didn’t want to be saved or be considered to be saved. The Victorian Era was a time where women couldn’t do anything and there were restricted to their daily living, with if them going out their way and falling in temptation was their way to fight but on their restriction in life and try to experience different things as we do in today’s society.

Work Cited

  1. Rossetti, Christina. Goblin Market . Broadview, 2009.
  2. Rossetti, Dante G. Jenny. Broadview, 2009.
07 July 2022

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