Analysis of Sonnet 43
Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote Sonnet 43 during the prime of the Victorian Period, which lasted the duration of Queen Victoria’s throne between 1832 and 1901. Like some of the works during the Victorian period, Sonnet 43 was a reflective piece about the love of her life, Robert Browning. Elizabeth Browning showed this reflection by answering her own posing question, “How do I love thee?” William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 30 however, was written during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, between 1559 and 1603. Shakespeare’s Sonnets also were written during the era of the Renaissance, in which political changes such as reformation led to an ultimate rebirth of ideology and innovation. The theme of Sonnet 43 is intense love that will become stronger after death. Browning begins the sonnet with a question - "How do I love thee?" In the sonnet, Browning proceeds to find, describe and list the ways in which you can love someone. She says that she loves the subject to the spiritual level. She says that she loves the subject freely and purely with the intensity of the suffering. Furthermore, she "shall love [him] better after death." The dominant figure of speech in the poem is anaphora, the use of “I love thee” in eight lines and “I shall but love thee” in the final line. This repetition builds rhythm while reinforcing the theme. Browning repeats the phrase “I love thee” at the beginning of several lines as an easy way to hold to the unstressed-stressed pattern dictated by iambic meter (line 5). The repetition is extended in the last two lines of the opening octave with the lines, “I love thee freely, as men strive for Right; / I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise” (lines 7-8). Browning also uses alliteration, as the following examples illustrate: thee, the (lines 1, 2, 5, 9, 12), soul, sight (line 3), and love, level (line 5). Being a Petrarchan sonnet, Sonnet 43 consists of fourteen lines which is made up of an octave and sestet. These...
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