1. What seems to be the subject of the poem? Why do you think the poet cast it as a fairy tale? How does this affect the ways in which its themes are represented?
  2. What are features of the poem’s rhymes and rhythm? What effect do these have on the poem's pacing?
  3. How are the stanzas divided? What is the effect of the use of different stanza lengths?
  4. What are some characteristics of the poem's diction? How are the fruits described?
  5. What are some allegorical features of the opening section?
  6. How are the goblin men described? Is it significant that they traffic outside the town?
  7. What effect is created by the fact that they act in concert, not as individuals? What other cues are given to indicate how we should respond to them?
  8. What significance is attached to the fact that they wish to sell (not give away) their fruits? How is the theme of marketplace exchange used throughout the poem?
  9. How are Laura and Lizzie contrasted? What seems to be their relationship to each other?
  10. How does each embody or reject Victorian conventions for women? What infractions of Victorian gender codes does Laura commit?
  11. What imagery is associated with Laura as she advances toward the goblins? (ll. 81-86)
  12. What sexual overtones appear in the scene of Laura and the goblin men? What sensations are associated with her consumption of the goblin fruits? (ll. 134-41)
  13. What is the significance of the poem’s account of Jeanie? What imagery surrounds her partaking of goblin fruits, and her death? Why doesn't a similar fate await Laura?
  14. Does Laura at first realize the consequence of her actions? Why do you think the vignette of the sisters' innocent slumber is inserted here?
  15. One rather well-known interpretation of this poem is that the “sisters” share a lesbian relationship. Can you see evidence for this view in the poem?
  16. How is Laura punished for her actions? Within the context of the poem's symbolism, why can she no longer hear the goblins' cry? What are her responses to this? (266-68)
  17. What happens to her physical self?
  18. Why does Lizzie pack a "silver penny" in her purse? How do the goblins respond to her approach?
  19. How does Lizzie answer their claim that the fruits are not portable?
  20. How do the goblins respond to her refusal? What does this seem to indicate about their intentions?
  21. What is the significance of the imagery used to represent Lizzie's resistance to the goblin attacks? (ll. 408-21)
  22. What are associations of Lizzie's invitation, "Eat me, drink me, love me"?
  23. What imagery is associated in the scene in which Laura sucks the juices and experiences spasms? What is the effect of so many comparisons? (epic similes)
  24. Is this experience pleasant for her? How do you interpret it? What term does the narrator use to describe these juices in the poem's final section?
  25. What imagery is contrasted with that of the goblin fruits throughout the poem?
  26. Christina Rossetti was a devout Anglican who worked in a home for fallen women. How may this poem have reflected her religious convictions?
  27. Can you see suggestions of the eucharist in this scene? Of vampirism? Can you think of other interpretations?
  28. What are some meanings of the poem’s ending?
  29. What roles do the sisters play in adult life, and who is the audience for their teachings? Do you think the sisters have retreated to form a separate enclave, or will their values affect their outer society?
  30. If "there is no friend like a sister," how will this insight be applied in the lives of the male children under their care? Is there no friend like a brother, or is the message gender-exclusive?
  31. Can you think of any sources or analogues for this poem? How unusual is the poem for its time in portraying the redemption of a “fallen woman”?
  32. If so, how may the setting of the poem in an alternate world have enabled a different outcome?
  33. Are there other unconventional features of the poem from a Victorian perspective?
  34. What seems to be the poem's message regarding the values of the marketplace? Illicit sexuality? Possible roles for Victorian women?