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Aurora Leigh

Faculty Mentor: Ana Kuzmanic

by Louise Page from  the novel by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Costume Design Independent Study

Spring 2022

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Aurora Leigh is a play by Louise Page (1979) based upon the novel by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.


Aurora Leigh both the novel by Elizabeth Barrett Browning and the play adaptation by Louise Page are about coming to terms with oneself over time. The story centers around identity growth through life experiences. The characters break the mold of expectation placed on them by society. More importantly by the end the characters break from the expectations they put on themselves. Aurora, the central character, spends her entire life defying the societal expectations of her as a woman by perusing her love of writing. Due to her expectations for herself, romantic love does fit in her life. Aroura continues to reject Romney, but at the end of the story she allows herself to admit her feelings for Romney and marry him. 

The gradual discovery of identity and discarding of expectation is what engaged me about the story. I wanted to find a way to represent this emergence through the costumes. As both a play and a novel Aurora Leigh uses nature as a constant companion to its characters. One line about nature in the novel stood out to me:

“The intention of the poem everywhere is to raise the spiritual above the natural; this is carried out in everything” Aurora Leigh​

This  quote and my desire to represent emergence of identity inspired the central idea of my design. I wanted an idea of organic authenticity to be part of the fabric of each character's being. The restrictions of both the society and the self crumble through time to authenticity in the story much like how the natural world given time consumes all rigid man-made structures. I wanted the characters to have facades distinctly reminiscent of their Victorian lives that are then being encroached upon by an overgrowth of nature in the same way moss breaks apart old statues as it grows.

Process Work

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