Categories
Classic English Literature

Analyzing Aurora Leigh

  • Introduction:

Opening Statement: Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s epic poem, Aurora Leigh, is one of the most extraordinary long poems in the English language and outlines the adventures (and misadventures) of of its protagonist, a female poet.

Purpose of writing: The purpose of this paper is to delve into this poem and discuss some of the feminist/progressivist issues that Barrett Browning is exploring in her work

Thesis statement: Specifically, it will look at the ways in which Barrett Browning deals with some of the most pertinent issues to women of her day: the lack of educational opportunities for women, the sexual exploitation of women, and the overriding belief in the Victorian times that women should be confined solely to the home.

  •  Body:

EDUCATION ISSUES IN AURORA LEIGH

1.“By no means Bonaventure’s pricks of love” and “French/ kept pure of Balzac and neologism” (Greenblatt, 1140).

2.“singing at a work apart/ behind a wall of sense” (Greenblatt, 1140)

SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF WOMEN IN AURORA LEIGH

[Marian subjected to] “men’s violence” (Greenblatt, 1145)

“a tiptoe Danae, overbold and hot” (Greenblatt, 1142)

REBELLION AGAINST VICTORIAN PATRIARCHY IN AURORA LEIGH

“[women] as  you are/Mere women, personal and passionate/You give us doting mothers and chaste wives/Sublime  Madonnas and enduring saints!/But we get no Christ from you – and verily/we shall not get a poet in my mind” (Greenblatt, 1144).

III. Conclusion

  1. Summary of main points: Thus we see that in Aurora Leigh, Elizabeth Barrett Browning was keenly aware of social problems in the world around her, particularly the issues faced by women of her day
  2. Thesis re-stated: In her epic poem, she deals with the limitations of educational opportunity for women, the sexual exploitation of women in Victorian times, and the criticism of a patriarchy which sought to keep women confined solely to the home and to denigrate any outside achievement or interests.
  3. Significance of the work: Taking all this into account, this work becomes an incredibly significant account of the plight of women in the Victorian Age; however, it can also be applicable to the plight of women today. When girls are terrorized for trying to attend school in Afghanistan, when a young woman is brutally gang-raped and murdered in New Delhi, when certain conservative Christian groups  in this country still try to keep women confined to purely domestic tasks, it is obvious that this poem has lost none of its relevance since the time that it was written.
  4. Recommendation: It should be recommended reading for any Women’s Studies course or examination of women in Victorian times.

Works Cited

Chouiten, Linda “Irony and gender politics in Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Aurora Leigh” Nordic Journal of English Studies. Vol. 11. No 3 p. 1-16

Greenblatt, Stephen.  “The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Vol. 2.”   New York and   London:  2000

Thomas, Katharina. “Feminism in Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “Aurora Leigh”: Developing a   Concept of the Female Artist”. Auflage, 2008.

Wallace, Anne. “Nor in Fading Silks Compose”: Sewing, Walking, and Poetic Labor in “Aurora  Leigh” ELH, Vol. 64, No. 1 (Spring, 1997), 223-256 The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Zonana, Joyce.  “The Embodied Muse: Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Aurora Leigh, and Feminist  Poetics”.  Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature.  Vol 8  No. 2   240-262

Isaacs, Jason.  “Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Women’s Issues, and Aurora Leigh”.  The Victorian Web. 1992.  Web. 1 April, 2013

Zonana, Joyce.  “The Embodied Muse: Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Aurora Leigh, and Feminist Poetics”.  Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature.  Vol 8  No. 2  pp  240-262

Thomas, Katharina. “Feminism in Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “Aurora Leigh”: Developing a Concept of the Female Artist. Auflage, 2008.

Wallace, Anne. “Nor in Fading Silks Compose”: Sewing, Walking, and Poetic Labor in “Aurora Leigh” ELH, Vol. 64, No. 1 (Spring, 1997), pp. 223-256The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Chouiten, Linda “Irony and gender politics in Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Aurora Leigh”Nordic Journal of English Studies. Vol. 11. No 3 p. 1-16

Laing-Cox, Taryn. “‘… singing at a work apart …’: The Search for a Feminine Poetic Voice in Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Aurora Leigh” Alternation 16, 2 (2009) 221 – 240 ISSN  1023-1757

Byrd, Deborah. “Combating An Alien Tyranny: Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Evolution As A   Feminist Poet” In: Browning Institute Studies. An Annual of Victorian Literary and  Cultural History: 13 (Victorian Literature and Culture) Ed. Auslander Munich, Adrienne. 1986. p. 23-54,

Kaplan, Cora. “Aurora Leigh” In: Feminist Criticism and Social Change: Sex, Class and Race in Literature and Culture, Ed.Newton, Judith. Taylor and Francis. 1985. p. 134-

The author focuses on the fact that Barrett Browning goes against taboos of the society by engaging in a discourse that is reserved for male members of the bourgeois society. Kaplan also brings in the female solidarity perspective into her argument, reflecting on the scenes among the poor. There is indeed a connection created by the poet between female characters; independent of their social status.

Work Cited

Greenblatt, Stephen.  The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Vol. 2.  New York and London:  2000

Isaacs, Jason.  “Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Women’s Issues, and Aurora Leigh”.  The Victorian Web. 1992.  Web. 1 April, 2013

Zonana, Joyce.  “The Embodied Muse: Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Aurora Leigh, and Feminist  Poetics”.  Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature.  Vol 8  No. 2  pp 240-262

[1]Not MLA

 

Categories
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