snaith//sonnet 43 CAMELS 15 marks


In Browning’s poem Sonnet 43, a list, is explored through the initial “How do I love thee?” question. Browning, through the poem clearly describes both the force and the power of her love for Robert Browning. “The depth and breadth and height” of her soul is filled by the sheer scale of her love for her husband. As a reader, the intensity of love portrayed can often seem over whelming if not unbelievable.

Unlike other social marriages of the time, Barrett Browning’s union to Robert was not forced or arranged but an expression of love. Frequent love poems were constructed in the sonnet form, exemplifying the social standards for romanticism. The adjective “freely” portrays the idea that the author is not oppressed by society or her husband; in addition this clearly demonstrates that she loves him intangibly with her entire being. One interpretation of this adjective could be that Browning is actively opposing slavery, which her father was keenly involved in.  

Faultlessness and praise is a key theme in this poem, to the extent where as a reader in the 21st century and a feminist I am frequently concerned for the writer’s welfare. Thankfulness is portrayed throughout accompanied by religious connotations “grace” giving him heavenly and underserved qualities. Conversely Browning had professed herself to be an Atheist, shown in “loves I seemed to lose”. One interpretation of this could be that Robert has replaced her deity to worship; in 1847 when the poem was written wives were often submissive and subservient to their husbands…


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