Youth and growing up is all about making mistakes, brushing yourself off, and learning from those mistakes. Children are constantly being taught lessons through trial and error. Learning through mistakes applies to us throughout our life. Authors Christina Rossetti and Maurice Sendak’s written pieces are ridden with symbols of adult themes of trial and error. These children’s books tackle themes that are way too complex for a child’s understanding. The time period of both of these children’s books may be largely different, but their messages to the reader is the same.
Even though the books are on the surface intended for children, they both teach valuable lessons for teens and adults. Both Where The Wild Things Are and “Goblin Market” teach that it is ok to make mistakes as long as you learn from them. In “Goblin Market”, Laura is a young woman enticed by the fruits of goblin men, who were considered taboo by her sister and presumably the community. Laura succumbs to the temptation and eats the fruits that were presented to her by these animalistic goblin men. Laura becomes obsessed with the fruit and her sister, Lizzie, becomes concerned.
To break Laura’s obsession, Lizzie goes down to the goblins and rejects the fruit offered to her. The goblin men hit her and insult her until they’ve had enough and leave. Upon Lizzies return, Laura sees this as an act of love and licks the juice off her sister’s body. They grow old together and love each other. Where The Wild Things Are is a tale about a young boy named Max who gets sent to his room after getting into trouble with his parents. He soon discovers that there is a mythical land within his room. He ventures out into this world and finds Monsters that want to eat him.
He performs a magic trick and becomes the king of the Monsters. After exclaiming, “let the wild rumpus start” they party for days on end. Max soon gets tired of this journey and sails across the sea back to his home. Upon arriving he finds his meal waiting for him and it’s still hot. To the naked eye, these stories require a very basic thought process to analyze the text. However, similarities of theme arise in both. In the “Goblin Market”, fruit symbolizes a guilty pleasure or taboo subject that brings pleasure to Laura.
Laura states that, “Then suck’d their fruit globes fair or red: Sweeter than honey from the rock, Stronger than man-rejoicing wine, Clearer than water flow’d that juice; She never tasted such before… And knew not was it night or day As she turn’d home alone. “(Rossetti) She loves this taste of the fruit that is give to her by these strange creatures. She is having the time of her life although it may be bad for her. Max, the protagonist from Where The Wild Things Are, is doing a similar thing. When Max becomes the king of the wild things, he starts the rumpus.
The “rumpus”(Sendak) can be seen as letting loose and letting go. The temptation of the fruit and its juices can be correlated to Max just letting loose. Having euphoric fun without looking at the long term health risks. The fruit and the rumpus is often considered to symbolize drugs, alcohol, and partying. These are things that every adult experiences at least once in his or her life. In is a part of making mistakes and growing up that everyone takes part in. In college students are surrounded by these temptations and most students take part in things that are illegal or really unhealthy.
But, students learn about these things and become a better person by learning from their mistakes. In “Goblin Market”, Lizzie reminds Laura about Jeanie, a girl that passed away from coming in contact with the goblins. The text states that, “Do you not remember Jeanie, How she met them in the moonlight, Took their gifts both choice and many, Ate their fruits and wore their flowers Pluck’d from bowers Where summer ripens at all hours? ” (Rossetti) This can be viewed as a warning to stop participating in these activities because she is going to get hurt.
Similar to Jeanie, college students die every year from hazing, alcohol consumption, or drug overdoses. Lizzie symbolizes a mother or authoritative figure in Laura’s life. She warnes Laura about the impending dangers that are going to come with that lifestyle. In both the “Goblin Market” and Where The Wild Things Are, love and family prevails in the end. Even though Laura directly ignored the warnings, Lizzie still went back to the goblins and endure physical abuse from them. She put her life on the line for Laura to showed that she cared. There is parental love in Where The Wild Things Are as well.
When Max returns from his “yearlong”(Sendak) journey, he finds that his dinner is still hot and ready even though his parents sent him up to his room to punish him. Also, this world in his room had everything that he wanted. He was a king of a land and could do whatever he wanted. But this still wasn’t enough for Max. He still missed home and left his kingdom to return to his family. The Monsters loved him as well, and gave him everything he wanted, but he still wanted to be home.
The monsters even state that, “Oh please don’t go- we’ll eat you up-we love you so! And Max said, “No! “(Sendak) The monster’s influence on him is similar to the goblin’s influence on Laura. Staying any longer may have gotten Max killed. Although he was having the most fun he ever had, he wasn’t getting the same kind of love as being with your parents. In both stories this proves that no matter what, family members will always love you and have your back. This is why it is ok to make mistakes growing up as a kid. It shows Laura and Lizzie living happy lives together even though Laura made a mistake that could have killed her.
Max, even though he was sent to bed without eating anything, he still returned after his “voyage”(Sendak) and found dinner waiting for him right on the table. Maurice Sendak is trying to tell kids to live a little. Go out and do what you love and make mistakes. But make sure that taking care of your family comes first. And, when you’re done with your exploration of society and yourself, you always have people that care about you to fall back on. After learning these valuable lessons, the young readers of these stories can see the largely grownup lessons.
Both Maurice Sendak and Christina Rossetti are hoping the reader takes away that even though its ok to have fun, there are limits. Max the voyager learns that staying too long would have killed him because the monsters were going to kill him. After realizing that he needed to be home, Max takes the journey back from his paradise. He knew when enough was enough and came home to his loving family. In “Goblin Market”, Jeanie had taken too much of the goblins fruit and perished because of she didn’t know her limits. The only difference between Max and Laura is that Max is independent enough to figure out his limits on his own.
Laura, on the other hand, has to have Lizzie show her that this metaphorical fruit is going to harm her. This difference in independence shows the varying ideas between Christina Rossetti and Maurice Sendak. Maybe due to time period, or the difference in female and male protagonists, both authors have a different method in portraying the coming of age. Christina Rossetti may want women to always watch for each other’s back. This can be shown by the sacrifices Lizzie makes in order to save Laura from the goblins influence.
While Max, a young boy, must be independent and realize for himself when the time it was to leave the Monster’s island. In Where The Wild Things Are, we see that Max during all of the rumpus misses home, “Then all around from far away across the world he smelled good things to eat so he gave up being king of where the wild things are. “(Sendak) Without his parents telling him so, he finds that what he misses most is home. Although one tale tells the story of a young woman fighting temptation and the other is about a boy who wanders off in a magical land, both teach the reader the importance of trial and error.
Christina Rossetti, a poet in nineteenth century England, wanted to make sure that women of the era go out and explore the world. That is why Christina choose two female protagonists to be the heroine and the hero of the poem. Maurice Sendak has infact revealed that his poem is also for adults. He was asked in an interview with Stephen Colbert, “Does rumpus mean sex? ” and he replied, “sure. ” These stories can be taken for its literal value for children, but also can be analysed as meaningful text.