If you can’t think for yourself . . .

. . . you’ll be pleased to know that in college, they do it for you!

I’m sometimes amazed and often shocked at the number of students who believe absolutely anything their professor teaches them.

In my British Lit. II course, I see this quite often. It’s disgusting. For instance, we are currently studying the Victorian Era. (Keep in mind that I took a semester-long course focusing only on Victorian Lit.) One of our poems this week is C. Rossetti’s “Goblin Market.” I’ll have to look at my Victorian notes, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t about what my professor thinks it is about. He thinks it is about men who force themselves on innocent children and two girls who have a forbidden love. I can’t tell you how angry I was when I read that.

Jai, what do you think? More importantly, how shocked do you think our favorite prof would be if he heard that interpretation? I’d like to hear his take on that one!

Worse yet, because our professor has mentioned this in the notes, several of the students read the poem with that already in their heads. So, of course they saw those images in the text. This is why I always read the texts before I find out what my professor thinks. I don’t want his ideas to influence mine. (Furthermore, he often makes me think that he believes his interpretation is the only one that is correct.)

These students are lemmings . . . literary lemmings! Grrrr!

Long story short, I’ll be glad when this semester is over because I’m tired of all of his twisted opinions about my beloved Victorians.

On the bright side, I finished The Eyre Affair. I highly recommend it! Much like Gregory Maguire, Fforde is excellent at giving the reader a new and interesting viewpoint of a well-known story. You should buy, not borrow, it today!

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6 thoughts on “If you can’t think for yourself . . .

  1. Jana Swartwood says:

    That is a complete load of crap. “Goblin Market” is ripe with sexual imagery, yes, but to classify it as simply being about (1) men forcing themselves on women and (2) repressed homosexual love is, I think, missing the entire point of the poem. It is about the sisterhood of women. It is about fallenness and redemption.The first sister, Laura, yearns for the goblins’ “fruit” (love, sex?), has no legitimate means of purchasing it, and thus gives them a piece of herself to get the fruit (i.e., loses her virginity). Once she has tasted the “forbidden fruit,” she yearns for it again, yet the goblins have vanished (i.e., men don’t want her anymore and society now shuns her). She begins to fade away; perhaps she will die. The second sister, Lizzie (the “good girl”), seeks to see her sister restored. She decides to go for herself to see what the goblin fruit is all about. She is unlike the typical Victorian woman in that she approaches the goblins from a stance of power. She has the ability to purchase what she wants; she is innocent, but she will not fall victim to them as her sister did. She sees the lush fruits available to her, and she offers to purchase them legitimately (i.e., marriage—perhaps this even refers to marriage for her sister), but the goblins would prefer that she just sample the goods with them. When she refuses, they become angry and try to force themselves on her, but she never gives in. She knows she is worth something (she has the penny); she will not give herself away freely. Though covered in the “juice” of their “fruit,” she emerges as the innocent victor who has defeated the enemy and driven them away. Her gift to Laura is a taste of this fruit, which restores her and at the same times reveals to her the error of her ways.The redemptive quality inherent in the line “Life out of death” is most evident—you might say Lizzie conquers “death” and brings new “life” to her sister. In the end, we see that Laura is restored (for we see that she eventually marries), and she teaches to her children the moral lesson that she has learned the hard way.The message of this poem is that female virtue can be restored by another woman who reaches out to save her. This would have been earth-shattering in its time, though it makes a lot of sense, since in real life Rossetti was actively involved with helping rehabilitate “fallen” women through her mission work at the St. Mary Magdalene’s.

  2. Coley says:

    Jana, thanks for your comments. I hope you don’t mind, but I used some of your thoughts in my discussion board post. (Don’t worry, I gave you credit, I think.)

  3. Jana Swartwood says:

    Emily, I love the idea of your blog! Can’t promise to stay on top of the reading, but I’d love to be part of the blog! Where can I find this list of books?Nicole, it’s all good. I’m just glad my comments were helpful. Thanks for posting on this; it really did me good to think about something other than Hebrew for a while.

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