Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Why animals?

I am wondering why the merchant man-goblins are compared to animals in the following passage:

One had a cat's face,
One whisked a tail,
One tramped at a rat's pace,
One crawled like a snail,
One like a wombat prowled obtuse and furry,
One like a ratel tumbled hurry-scurry.
Lizzie heard a voice like voice of doves
Cooing all together:
They sounded kind and full of loves
In the pleasant weather.

This is when Laura first starts to falter--after she looks.


Blogger Ann said...

After reading the poem a couple of times I feel that the goblins are humanoid-animal creatures. They actually do have those animal characteristics described in the poem. At first I thought it was just descriptions to give them an animal feel, but then I began to think that they actually do have animal characteristics.
This makes me feel that the poem is partly about the struggle of humans to separate themselves from animals with civilization. It is only by Lizzie's strong will and determintation NOT to join in the goblin meal (eating itself is a very uncivilized thing to do when you really get down to it. How many people look good eating spaghetti?) that Laura is saved.
The goblins are kind of half-man/half-animal creatures that walk the line between civility and savagery. They have a market, but a very beastly one, that is not in the regular market.
I like the way that it is a female that has the will and courage to stay human and "save the day".
I hope what I've said makes sense. I've tried typing it out a few different times, but after having been with a 2 year old all day my vocabulary has drastically decreased!

6:27 PM  
Blogger teabird17 said...

This scenario goes back to the Garden of Eden. The tempters are male half-animals (goblins/the serpent), and the "fallen" is a woman (Eve, eating forbidden fruit).

And yet, isn't that the essence of what a refined, delicately-raised (and, probably, ignorant) Victorian woman would fear? Even the ordinary, "base" aspects of married life - life (sex, childbirth, etc.} would frighten a woman - especially a woman with no parents to protect her or arrange her life.

Parentless Lizzie and Laura have to deal with the animal necessities of these with a half-man, half-animals (read: husband) themselves.

Victorian culture would portray quite the opposite scenario. A woman with desires for forbidden fruit (and "fruit" can be defined in so many ways, from sensual and carnal to materialistic) would be shunned, especially if she yielded, even once, to temptation.

How much more loving for another woman, a sister, to understand the longing and the fall, and to plan an ordeal of her own to rescue her sister. No judgement, only concern, and love. Laura doesn't escape without pain: she has to go through fire to be healed. But she is healed.

I agree with you about the struggle. (It's a discussion we all had over at KTC when we read The Life of Pi.) Victorians, especially, wanted to overlay the basic need for food. They devised rituals, implements, decorations, and timetables that could convince them that their desire to eat was more of a social convention than basic animal need. (I can't see them eating spaghetti...)

They did the same for sex, right? "Lie back and think of Queen Victoria." The upper classes, especially, hid the animal necessities of conception, childbirth, and childrearing behind veneers of immaculate, modest, and delicate mothers. Children were presented only when they were beautifully-dressed and smelling wonderful.

9:48 AM  
Blogger Jan said...

I think that it is quite wonderful how each of will inturpret something a bit differant out of this reading based on our individual life experiences. And how, for me anyway, none of them is either wrong or right. They each are our own individual truths.

That being said, I got something a little differant. I think animals because even now, while differant, they represent the primal or animal instincts in man and womankind.
Fruits, and sweet lucious fruits at that, because the represent the fulfillment of a need albeit threw a forbidden means. For instance obtaining confidence via illegal drug usage; getting drunk to acheive a sense of self-esteem; etc.

For me Laura saved Lizzie by her warnings not look or surcome to the temptations. Lizzie saved Laura by risking herself to remody Laura's afliction from having given in to those same temptations.

Sometimes it's the afflictions of those nearest and dearest to us that (by their examples) warn us not to fall prey such temptations. And in that we share their tradgedies, we develope a "sister-hood" and thus are willing to make sacrifices in an effort to offer remody.

10:48 PM  
Blogger Jenni said...

Everyone has such thoughtful things to say.

I would say that untimately, especially considering Rosetti's other poetry, the poem encourages us to transcend out animal natures in favor of our spiritual, sisterly, and generous ones.

4:24 PM  

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