Decorative Initial According to Gelpi, "Although no personal line comes through the plot of Aurora Leigh, the images of the poem tell a separate story: not the public story of a woman poet living in Victorian society but the inner story of such a woman's feelings about herself, particularly about her feminimity. In her concern for the poor, Barrett Browning seems to have been unaware of how much her thinking was narrowed by the presuppositions of her class, but when thinking about women, whether poor or affluent, she recognized very clearly the influence of a similar conditioning. That is, she saw women's central problem as the antifeminine biases they had themselves internalized. While telling Aurora's story, then, Barrett Browning is also describing the process by which she herself threw off those "mind-forg'd manacles," an underplot which unfolds primarily through the metaphorical language of the poem." (36).


Barbara Charlesworth Gelpi, "Aurora Leigh: The Vocation of the Woman Poet," Victorian Poetry, 19 (1981).

Last modified 26 November 2004