Henry Longfellow’s Perception of Love in “The Children’s Hour”
Love can be perceived in an innumerable amount of ways. Each person has his own perception of love, and experiences this emotion accordingly. In “The Children’s Hour, Henry Longfellow portrays love as conventional, idyllic, and eternal.
The main subject of the poem is Longfellow’s sweet and adoring love for his three daughters. As the poem states, “They climb up into my turret / O’er the arms and back of my chair.” Their rowdy behavior does not surprise him. On the contrary, he anticipates it. To Longfellow, expressions of love are not out of the ordinary and unexpected. Rather, love is conventional, and one of the usual goings-on of the house.
Throughout the poem, Longfellow only discusses how perfect and impalpable love is. Never does he mention any flaws or the usual conflicts of family life. He displays love in an ideal light. It seems to not require any work or strife, rather it is portrayed as a quality inherent in human nature. In addition, his daughters take this everyday love for granted. They accept his love and don’t recognize the true value of it. All they know is this idyllic, yet unrealistic, life.
Love is not something that can be switched on and off. As stated in the poem, “And there will I keep you forever, / Yes, forever and a day.” Longfellow views love as eternal and unconditional. The recipient of the love has not earned it and need not be deserving of such love. However, Longfellow believes that parents are ingrained with a natural love for their children that can never be altered or destroyed under any circumstance.
As seen, Longfellow views love as conventional, idyllic, and eternal. While it is true that there are many angles and views of love, each person experiences this universal emotion in correlation with his own perception of it.
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