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"Growing like the Plants from Unseen Roots": The Equalizing Role of Plant Imagery in Aurora Leigh
English Theses
  • Sarah King Steiner, Georgia State University
Date of Award
5-13-2011
Degree Type
Thesis
Degree Name
Master of Arts (MA)
Department
English
First Advisor
Dr. Paul Schmidt
Second Advisor
Dr. Michael Galchinsky
Third Advisor
Dr. LeeAnne Richardson
Abstract

Plant imagery abounds in Elizabeth Barrett Browning's novel-poem, Aurora Leigh, and critical readings have not thoroughly explored the meaning of and intent behind that imagery. Plant metaphor and images in Aurora Leigh are used to challenge the concept of Victorian women's inherently inferior "nature" and to present an argument for female equality. When traced throughout the work, plant imagery foreshadows Aurora and Marian's ultimate personal independence and familial harmony and helps the reader to understand the poem's controversial ending. Ties to three of Browning's literary influences in the selection of plant images are explored: Emanuel Swedenborg, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Each of these three understood and used nature imagery to significant effect in their own writings, and Browning adopted and developed those images in her work.

Citation Information
Sarah King Steiner. ""Growing like the Plants from Unseen Roots": The Equalizing Role of Plant Imagery in Aurora Leigh" (2011)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/sarah_steiner/10/