Decorative Initial His sister and uncle use Pip as a commodity or a product that will yield profits. In each work, Pip and Aurora are the medium of monetary exchange in business transactions whether it is borrowing a child for a certain time for entertainment or marriage. The people who should nurture Pip and Aurora either use them to fulfill their own ambitions or attempt to train them to fulfill society's expectations.

Economic relations define gender or marriage relations in which love is spoken of in terms of money and marriage becomes a business relationship. Even though marriage to him would gain for herself relative financial security, Aurora refuses to marry Romney because then he would own her soul.

Love, to him [Romney] was made
A simple law clause. If I married him,
I should not dare to call my soul my own
Which so he had bought and paid for: every thought
and every heart-beat down there in the bill;
Not one found honestly deductible
from any use that pleased him! He might cut
My body into coins to give away
Among his other paupers; change my sons,
While I stood dumb as Griseld for black babes
or piteous foundlings. [II, 784-94]

Although Aurora bristles at Romney's proposal because she believes it entirely a business arrangement and a matter of convenience for him without any true hint of sentiment or love in it, her aunt bluntly points this out to Aurora that women depend on men for their living. Without marriage to Romney, Aurora will be destitute and so should accept his offer. She mocks Aurora for thinking herself free and independent when bound by society and monetary concerns.

                         You suppose, perhaps,
That you, sole offspring of an opulent man,
Are rich and free to choose any way to walk?

Pray, child, albeit I know you love me not,
As if you loved me, that I may not die!
For when I die and leave you, out you go
(Unless I make room for you in my grave),
Unhoused, unfed, my dear, poor brother's lamb
(Ah heaven that pains!) without a right to crop
A single blade of grass beneath these trees,
Or cast a lamb's small shadow on the lawn,
Unfed, unfolded! [II, 589-91, 595-601]

Even her Aunt Leigh, whom Aurora cannot bring herself to love, means to do her best by Aurora when she trains her to please men, making her read books that

                         boldly assert
[women's] right of comprehending husband's talk
When not too deep, and even of answering
With pretty 'may it please you,' or 'so it is'
...And never say 'no' when the world says 'ay,'
For that is fatal. [I, 430-33, 437-38]

Romney's expectations in a wife do not differ much from Aunt Leigh's. He expects to gain a helpmeet, a faithful assistant in his social work, which he sees as important while dismissing Aurora's poetic ambitions as frivolous. However, Aurora, who expects different things from her life, sets her own ambitions for herself and leaves for London after her aunt's death, �unencumbered with any gift money from her cousin that would put her under an obligation to him�to become a poet.


Barrett Browning, Elizabeth. Aurora Leigh. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.

Dickens, Charles. Great Expectations.New York: Penguin Books, 1985.

Aurora Leigh Gender

Last modified 1996