Both of her parents having died, Aurora Leigh is forced to leave Italy and move in with her aunt in England. Being half Italian, she is treated as somewhat of an outsider, and it is obvious that she misses her homeland. Aurora's most obvious discontents have to do with the people around her. She clearly dislikes both her aunt and Romney. Yet her unhappiness also seems to stem from her surroundings. In Aurora's mind, England's landscape seems to lack something:

            On English ground
You understand the letter...ere the fall,
How Adam lived in the garden. All the fields,
Are tied up fast with hedges, nosegay-like;
The hills are crumpled plains, — the plains, parterres, —
The trees, round, wooly, ready to be clipped;
And if you seek any wilderness
You find, at best, a park. A nature tamed
And grown domestic like a barn -door fowl,
Which does not awe you with its claws and beak,
Nor tempt you to an eyrie too high up,
But which, in cackling, sets you thinking of
your eggs tomorrow at breakfast, in the pause
Of finer meditation.

Questions

1. In this passage, Browning clearly makes reference to Adam and Eve's "fall" from innocence. Why does she do this? For Aurora Leigh, what is the Garden of Eden? How does the passage relate to Milton's Paradise Lost in terms of issues of abandonment and shame?

2. Aurora Leigh seems to have both a little bit of Jane Eyre and a little bit of Margaret Hale in her. What particular aspects of her life relate to either of these other two characters?


Victorian Overview E. B. Browning

Last modified 17 March 2003