Sunday, June 22, 2008

Elizabeth Barrett Browning


Many poets and writers believed have labeled Elizabeth Browning as the most significant woman poet to come from the Victorian Era. I found where she was considered the front runner because of her romantic lyrics and her feministic themes that she wrote. Our textbook writes “…Elizabeth Barrett Browning was the first to show English readers the enormous possibilities of a poetic tradition in which women participated on equal terms.” Pg. 529, lines 47 and 48.
Browning was married to Robert Browning who was not as famous as she was. They were secretly married in 1846 in London. Elizabeth and Robert eloped to Italy to marry. Her health was not the best when she married Robert but with the help of the climate in Italy she began recuperating and gaining some of her health back. Ms. Browning began to write even more and began writing the intimate details of her and Robert’s relationship.
Elizabeth Browning wrote Aurora Leigh in 1850, which was the longest poem she had written. This poem is about Aurora Leigh who wanted to work as an artist and had men who was constantly telling her what she was to and not to do. This was a consistent manner in which Britain had been up to this time. Women had previously not been able to be supportive, get a divorce, just to name a couple. This poem was about the social injustice that women were facing. The poem is about a woman who wants to be woman and a poet/artist at the same time. Throughout this poem, Browning portrays Aurora as a very tough and strong willed person.
In Aurora Lee, Browning wrote “…what you love is not a woman, Romney, but a cause: You want a helpmate, not a mistress, sir,” (546). I think Browning drives home her feelings here. I believe that Browning is saying that “Romney”s love is not a normal love; Romney’s love is a necessity. When she writes the next sentence, I believe that she is defining the necessity, a helper, not a lover.
I believe that Browning became so independent because of her father. I believe that Elizabeth lost herself in her education in hopes of being more independent after living with her father and seeing how meagerly they had to live after her father sold The End.
Elizabeth has been the reported to be the most renowned female writer from this era. Elizabeth was also at one time considered to be Poet Laureate, the first female to ever be considered for this position.
Barrett's poetry had a enormous impact on the works of Emily Dickinson who admired her as woman of achievement. Dickinson is one of many who has been impacted by Elizabeth Browning.
Browning and her husband spent most every waking moment together. They promoted each other's works and inspired each other's thoughts. Many believe that each of them complimented the other's writings.
Unfortunately, all perfect story book lives must come to an end. This story book ends with Elizabeth dying in Robert's arms on June 29, 1861.


TonyP said...

Thanks for enlightening us about Elizabeth Barrett Browning and her work. I did write about her Sonnets and not Aurora Leigh. It thought it was too long and very difficult to analyze so it was interesting to read your blog. Thanks for giving us the synposis of this poem, which as you have stated was about Aurora Leigh who wanted to work as an artist and had men who was constantly telling her what she was to and not to do. I cannot image what she was going through, because during the time when the peom was written women were not classified as equal to men. Women were just to stay home and tend to the house so a woman wanting to be an artist, a prominent profession for men, was unheard of. It is no wonder that Elizabeth Browning is considered, as you have said, one of the most significant poet in the Victorian era. She wanted to shed some light on the unfair treatment between the sexes.

Thanks for sharing.

Jonathan.Glance said...


While it can be very useful to provide biographical details on a poet to set a context or support evidence for the interpretation of a poem, if you provide too much background without explicitly connecting it to the literary analysis the background looks like padding to take up space. You risk that in this post--there is very little discussion of Aurora Leigh here.