Elizabeth Barrett Browning: Poems

Feminism and Cultural Exploration in Aurora Leigh College

Victorian literature, like almost all literature, speaks inherently of the social, philosophical and religious issues which molded the people of the time. The Romantic ideals of the singling-out and celebration of the self are often challenged by Victorian literature, with its focus on putting the self into a social context and examining the relationship which emerges. The statement ‘a sense of crisis permeated every aspect of Victorian society as it struggled to reconcile past ideas and beliefs with progress and modernity’ describes this new aspect perfectly. Many changes caused this shift in Victorian society, but one of the most important and controversial was the increasing prominence of women in the public sphere, and the changing dynamics of male-female relationships. It is this revelation which will be explored in this essay, using Aurora Leigh by Elizabeth Barret-Browning as its basis. A book and a line number will be specified after each quotation, and due to the length of the poem, this essay will focus mainly on the first two books.

The Victorian ideal of the angel in the house, a term from a poem by Coventry Patmore, described (when analysed) how women were expected to be subservient to men, and their goals...

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