Elizabeth Barrett Browning: Poems

Poetry, Gender and Nature versus Reality: Aurora Leigh and Elizabeth Barrett Browning

The Victorian era was a period of great social and political upheaval, especially for women. Increasing opposition to the lack of women's political rights in relation to marriage and property laws, such as the fact that any income a woman earned automatically belonged to her husband, as well as debates on education, was termed "The Woman Question." However, there were also both men and women, such as Sarah Stickney Ellis and Coventry Patmore, who believed that allowing women more freedom was going against their "natural" temperament. The deeply embedded patriarchal values in Victorian society meant that instead of openly declaring women as the inferior sex, instead they were praised for the virtues women were supposed to possess naturally - selflessness, patience, ability to love, and maternal instincts. Although apparently praising women for their contributions to society, this ideology was instead used to justify women's inferior roles and was highly restrictive and patronising.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning's poem Aurora Leigh interested me as it seemed to reflect and highlight a lot of the issues that were surrounding the complex "Woman Question" in Victorian times, in particular the...

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