How Do I Love Thee Poem Analysis

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“How Do I Love Thee” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning: An Analysis

Poetry has been used for centuries as a medium for expressions of love. From romantic to familial love, there is a poem for it, describing its nature. These poems typically also convey clear or implicit ideologies relating to gender and gender construction. Sonnet 43 or “How do I Love Thee?” is arguably one of the greatest love poems of all time. Written by Elizabeth Barrett Browning in 1850, it can only be described, as an outright expression of romantic love, of which is unusual for females in Victorian England.

How do I love thee is indisputably a love sonnet and was written for Barrett Browning’s husband before they were married in order to show her undying, endless love
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It appears almost desperate at times, as she beseechingly attempts to convey her love. The use of anaphora or the repetition of “I love thee” in Sonnet 43 helps Barrett Browning emphasise this desperate sound. This repetition sounds almost like a plea, as if she is trying to convince her husband to believe how deep, how all consuming her love is. She claims it takes over from “old greifs” and she loves him “with her childhood’s faith” – or in other words, the way she feels about him takes over from any old pain and she loves him in a childlike way: with blind faith. This repetition makes the poem appear to read faster, adding to the feel of Barrett Browning desperately professing her undying love to fiancé, Robert Browning. However, in line ten, the rhythm seems to slow, as if the poet is not as desperate to show her love but rather, is attempting to reinforce what she has claimed. The last line reads slowest, an effective stylistic choice, as it allows the reader to reflect on what was said and permits Barrett Browning one last poignant statement: that she will love Robert Browning “better after death,” or eternally. Additionally, the poem uses iambic pentameter, where every second syllable is stressed. Interestingly every mention of the word “love” occurs on the stressed syllable. This is intentional as it helps emphasise her love…show more content…
These expressions come in many forms. Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnet 43 is debatably one of the best love poems of all time. The poet used the Petrarchan sonnet form to achieve its purpose of revealing her endless and undying love for her husband, Robert Browning. Barrett Browning attempted to quantify and define her love throughout this poem, by use of repetition, rhythm, and iambic pentameter. It is interesting to note that, this poem could be regarded as gender-neutral, without prior knowledge of the poet’s gender. The use of sound by Barrett Browning makes the poem appear more feminine. “How do I Love Thee” was written in the Victorian Era, and the use of imagery makes the sonnet, ultimately, seem to be a challenge to traditional gender roles, despite the slightly feminine tone. Overall, it cannot be disputed that “How do I Love Thee” is an expression for Romantic, undying and endless love on the behalf of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and is therefore a truly Romantic
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