Though written in the 17th century romantic era, Why So Pale is a reflection of the Middle Age chivalry love scene, where love or affection of a man for his lover is marked by extreme devotion and sacrifice. The poem is built round the two friends, one a lover and the other advising the male lover. The adviser bases his opinion and advice on his observation. He first observes the pale and wan looks of a lover, which he feels instead of arousing positive attitude from his lover would deter her. In the second stanza, the persona-adviser feels being mute would not achieve much in winning his lover, when many protestations have failed in the past. In the last and third stanza, the speaker in the poem tries to identify why his friend is not able to win his lover and comes to the conclusion that, if she herself does not love him, it would be difficult for his advances to be reciprocated. So he states unequivocally, that he forgets the whole business of wooing the proud lady. Themes.
Sacrifice /Pain of Love-The lover has to exhibit so much physical traits to convince his lover that he is really in love. He has to look unkempt and neglected, so as to arouse her sympathy. In addition, instead of being lively and loquacious, he has to take the posture of mourning and groaning in pain to show his love – sickness. Unrequited Love-The whole concern of the poem is about a non-present lady, who exercises so much influence on the male lover, by not reciprocating his love advances. This trait typically presents the snobbish and proud attitude of a Victorian lady. Form and Structure
This is a lyric poem built round 3 stanzas of 5 lines each. The first one describes the physical change in the male-lover. The second dwells on his strange muteness. The last concludes the poem with a pungent solution to the lover’s problem. This explains the appropriateness of the word Why in stanza one and two. They are employed to rhetorically raise questions. Quit in the last stanza gives an...
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