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Women and Children in "The Cry of the Children" and "The Feminine Education of Aurora Leigh"

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In both of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's poems, The Cry of the Children and The Feminine Education of Aurora Leigh, the role of gender is evident. Browning brings attention to the causes and nature of women's subordination to men in society in an attempt to remove that subordination through awareness. There were limited educational and employment opportunities available for women, and Browning aims to challenge these issues of gender inequality because she feels women should have equal opportunity as men. In society males are often associated with the public sphere whereas the private sphere refers to females. However, the overlap between the two spheres are women in the positions of teachers and writers. In such a position, Browning uses the slight influence she may have and writes to question the sexual roles of men and women as they are understood. She challenges the role of female teachers in Victorian England and critiques the inadequate education they are providing. The two poems differ for one focuses on the poor treatment of children in mines and factories, and the other criticizes the education of women . Nevertheless, in both pieces of literature Browning recognizes the status of women in society. In The Cry of the Children the poem focuses on the poor treatment of children, yet the role of women in Victorian England is still evident. Throughout the poem The Feminine Education of Aurora Leigh issues of gender inequality are apparent through the inadequate teachings and the repressed attitude of Aurora Leigh's aunt.

In the poem, The Cry of the Children Browning explores the labour of children in mines and factories. The poem is written in response to the child abuse constituted from labour, yet the notion of gender...

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...n of Aurora Leigh. When recognizing the poor treatment of children, the recognition of the male dominated society does not go unnoticed. However, in The Feminine Education of Aurora Leigh Browning uses a naïve character, Aurora Leigh, to bring awareness to the absurdity of the invaluable education of women in society. It is amusing that in a society where women and children are not well educated, it is a young female character who recognizes the faults in Victorian England's view of women.

Works Cited

Browning, Elizabeth Barrett. The Cry of the Children. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Ed. Julia Reidhead. 7th ed. Vol. 2. New York: Norton, 2000. 1174- 1178.

Browning, Elizabeth Barrett. The Feminine Education of Aurora Leigh. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Ed. Julia Reidhead. 7th ed. Vol. 2. New York: Norton, 2000. 1180-1186.
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