Female Rebellion In Aurora Leigh And The Lady In The Looking Glass

788 words - 3 pages

Female Rebellion In Aurora Leigh and The Lady in the Looking-Glass

     Women of both the ages of Victorian and early Modernism were restricted from education at universities or the financial independence of professionalism. In both ages, women writers often rebelled against perceived female expectations as a result of their oppression. To lead a solitary life as a subservient wife and mother was not satisfactory for writers like Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Virginia Woolf. One of the most popular female poets of the Victorian era, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, illustrated "a woman's struggle to achieve artistic and economical independence in modern society" (Longman P.1858). Many Victorian critics were shocked by Barrett Browning's female rebellion, which was rare for the era. With her autobiographical epic poem, Aurora Leigh provoked critics who were "scandalized by its radical revision of Victorian ideals of femininity" (P.1859). In the age of Modernism, women were finally given the some rights to a higher education and professionalism i n 1928 (p.2175). However, female poets of early Modernism, such as Virginia Woolf, were raised in the Victorian age. Rebellion toward "Victorian sexual norms and gender roles" (P.2175) are reflected in Woolf's modern literary piece, such as The Lady in the Looking-Glass: A Reflection. Also echoed in the piece, is how Woolf  "never lost the keen sense of anguish nor the self-doubt occasioned by the closed doors of the academy to women" (P.2445).


      Both of the female protagonists, Aurora of Aurora Leigh and Isabella of The Lady in the Looking Glass: A Reflection, represent the rebellion and self-doubt of their female writers. Aurora rebels against the Victorian ideals her aunt tries to force upon her. From Aurora's viewpoint, her aunt's submission to the Victorian female role equals intellectual repression. She compares her aunt's life to "A sort of cage-bird life" and views her own rebellion toward the expected role as "A wild bird scarcely fledged" (P.1866-1867, Ll.305, 311). Aurora's aunt tries teaching the role of Victorian women with books dictating " if women do not think at all, they may teach thinking"(P.1869, L. 427). One of the only rights of thinking given to women, was "their right to...

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