Religion and Gender Roles in Robert Browning's and Charlotte Bronte's Work

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The Victorian Era saw the emergence of literature which reflect the dramatic changes that were taking place in England on a social, spiritual and intellectual level. Robert Browning’s poems, “Porphyria’s Lover” and “The Bishop Orders His Tomb at Saint Praxed’s Church”and Charlotte Bronte’s “The Professor”, through the employment of various literary techniques reflect and challenge previously accepted ideas on religion and gender roles in society during this period. During the Victorian Era it was widely accepted that men had the power in society. Women were thought to be inferior. This concept is reflected and challenged in “Porphyria’s Lover”. The persona’s passive tone in “she put my arm around her waist and made her shoulder bare” shows how she’s in power and he is being controlled. This challenges the Victorian Era perceptions of women who are meant to be submissive. However, this power is later shifted when he strangles her. The repetition of “mine” in “that moment she was mine, mine”, shows how the persona views Porphyria as his possession. After he strangles her, he “propped her up as before”. This is juxtaposed to the earlier image of her taking control. This time it’s the speaker who has the power. This reflects the patriarchal society at the time. Therefore, Browning uses literary techniques to reflect and challenge the accepted gender roles in society during the Victorian Era. Similarly, this concept is also explored in “The Professor”. The narrator, William Crimsworth’s condescending tone when describing women, “their dresses were pleasing enough to the eye but their conversation was meaningless”, portrays how he believed they were only physically attractive. He considered them inferior in terms of their intellectual capacities.

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