Ideal Wife Essay

Elizabeth Barrett Browning – Aurora Leigh – An exploration of the alterity of the “artist woman” in Book 2 and 3, focussing upon the symbolic judgments voiced by Romney and Lady Waldemar, with reference to Aurora’s ‘impertinence’ and ‘asexuality. ‘ Both Romney Leigh and Lady Waldemar make symbolic judgments about Aurora. They are disturbed by her role as a writer, which they view as ‘impertinence. ‘ As an ‘artist woman’ in a man’s world, this makes Aurora neither man nor woman in their eyes but ‘asexual.

Essay Example on The Lightning Thief

‘ This essay explores these judgments in the light of Aurora’s otherness which is in contrast to the identity which a patriarchal society has constructed for women. Romney’s voice is the voice of patriarchy. His speech reveals the identity that a patriarchal society has constructed for women when he tells Aurora that the proper place for a “Woman as you are, mere woman, personal and passionate” is in the role of: “… doting mothers, and perfect wives, Sublime Madonnas, and enduring saints! (II.


As this speech shows, Romney believes all women should remain within the traditional roles assigned to them by patriarchy. The expectation for women is that they resemble in behaviour, the Virgin Mary or other saints, who endure great hardship but without complaint. Victorian society believed that a woman’s sole focus in life should be on the needs of her children and her husband and only then can she be viewed as the “perfect wife”. Romney Leigh sees nothing in Aurora which resembles any of these attributes for as he says, “We get no Christ from you.

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” (II.224)

As a writer, Aurora fails to conform to the ideal woman, wife and mother as it has been constructed by patriarchy, rather she embodies an otherness which is in complete contrast to this ideal. However, Romney even refuses to give her credit for her writing because he feels her lack of womanly virtue destroys her credibility as an artist, “and verily/We shall not get a poet, in my mind. ” (II. 224-5) Clearly, Romney views Aurora’s otherness as an impediment to her skills as a writer because he believes she is unable to act like a woman was expected to be.

This notion is revealed further when Romney accuses the ‘woman artist’ of trying to be a “prophet,” who is attempting to “teach the living” about “things” which woman cannot “understand. ” What Romney means is that women are supposedly only “sympathetic to the personal” woes in life, whereas men are capable of sympathizing with a more “universal anguish” and “general suffering” in the world. (II. 181-199) He tells Aurora: “You weep for what you know. A red-haired child Sick in fever, if you touch him once, Though but so little as with a finger-tip,Will set you weeping; but a million sick … You could as soon weep for the rule of three Or compound fractions. ” (II. 213-18)

This reveals not only Romney’s patronizing symbolic judgement of the ‘woman artist’ being incapable of experiencing any emotion with regard to the greater, and in his view, far more important issues in life, but also that all women are incapable of having these feelings which is why he believes women do not make good writers. In Romney’s judgment, all women are selfish and not do feel anything for the wider and more important issues.

He says that since this is a “world/Uncomprehended” by women, then the world should remain “Uninfluenced” by women. (II. 218-20) Since Romney Leigh perceives women to be outside the realm of true human emotion, he even sees them as not human. Indeed, Romney’s symbolic judgment of ‘women’artists’ is that they are like beasts for Aurora is described as “a grand wild creature of the woods,” who “hate[s] the stall built for” her. (II. 1098/9) In other words, Aurora is like a horse.

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Ideal Wife Essay
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