Compare the Different Ways in Which 19th Century Female Poets Explore the Theme of Love

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  • Topic: Poetry, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Love
  • Pages : 5 (2029 words )
  • Download(s) : 51
  • Published : November 20, 2008
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In the 19th century women were not treated as they are today. Women had very little rights, in fact women and children had about the same amount. Women could not vote or sue or own property, even if it was inherited from her family. Women were seen to be there only to provide children and do all the domestic chores. The only occupation that women could have was of a teacher or a domestic servant. Women were also not allowed to own checking accounts or savings. In this era many men idolised women and saw them as being pure and clean. This was the traditional view of women, not only was there a view on women but also one of love. Elizabeth Barrett Browning was the author of How do I love thee? .This poem is a traditional Victorian love poem which follows the rigid sonnet structure. Using this structure places limits on what you want to say and how you can describe things, but the poet has used this form to show how serious her love is. This structure also gives the poem authority. The rhythm of Iambic Pentameter emphasises the important words at the end of each line. It also creates a joyous musical tone. The use of Iambic Pentameter steers away from the rigid structure and helps the reader feel like the poem is flowing and it also helps to create a rhythm. To help create the rhythm and flow the poet uses stressed syllables such as “breath” and “thee”, these words have an exaggerated vowel sound. This poem is full of Imagery especially religious. The poet uses religious imagery to describe her love for her husband is almost like her love for her God. She claims to love her husband “purely” which is the way that she should/would love her God. She is comparing the way that she loves to many religious things. She compares loving her husband to thinking about heaven “My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight”. But because she is comparing her love for her husband to her God it almost seems as if to a certain extent that her love for her God is not as important because her love towards her husband is almost worship. The poet has written this poem as if she is speaking to her husband which makes this poem conversational. It almost seems like there is no way that she can voice her love so she only has the means to write it. This poem is connected to A Birthday because both of these poems share the idea of the Victorian view on love. This is what many were taught to be the right kind of love/ how it should be. How do I love thee? is different to all the other four poems because it has a lot of abstract imagery. It uses abstract imagery to help express love. Phrases such as “I love thee to the level of everyday’s most quiet need” show abstract imagery clearly. The use of abstract imagery makes the reader engaged in the poem and gives their mind the opportunity to explore different horizons. A Women to her Lover does not follow the Victorian view on love. Instead the poet has written about her own interpretation of love and what it should be. Each stanza in this poem has an individual theme. Stanza 1 is about slavery. This theme is made clear with imagery such as “make me a bondslave” and “Bend me to your will”. Stanza 2 expresses the poet’s views on religious icons and religion by referring to religious imagery. She does this by telling her lover that she will not “sit for feeble worship”. Stanza 3 follows the theme of being and item of pleasure. Within this stanza Walsh affirms to her lover that she is not and will not be used to “gratify” his “clamorous desire”. Stanza 4 is the calmest stanza, which speaks on the theme of equality, she is expressing to her lover that she wants to be a “comrade, friend and mate” to him as well as just his lover and companion. Each stanza has no set structure and so it makes this poem free verse. this really compliments the poet’s ideas as I think that this poem is about freedom and the use of free verse expresses the general theme of it. The language in this poem is defiant this is also the same...
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