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

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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 Vi...

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...r letters, they were all bills" (P.2456). The rebellion ultimately led to emptiness, as Isabella chose not to have relations to preserve her freedom.

Both Aurora Leigh and The Lady in the Looking Glass: A Reflection help define female rebellion from Victorian and Modernism eras. The portrayal of the nature of the rebellion differs between the eras. The Victorian protagonist was more innocent in her struggle to gain independence. When that independence was achieved, it was like discovering a new religion. On the other hand, the Protagonists if the modernism era no longer were innocent in her rebellion. Forced to live a solitary life to seal her independence, she was hardened by the memories of the Victorian ideals for women.

Longman. The Longman Anthology of British Literature, vol. B. Damrosch, D. NY, LA: Addison Wesley Longman.
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