Elizabet Barret Browning

Table of Content

The development of the emotions and relationship of Elizabeth Browning changes dramatically through sonnets 1-21, as Elizabeth’s comes to a realisation of the love she encounters.

In the first sonnet Elizabeth is not aware that she has fallen in love until the end of the poem. She contemplates on her feelings towards her life, as she feels lifeless and depressed. She quotes “i saw, in gradual vision through my tears, the sweet, sad years, the melancholy years. ” The Oxymoron in “the sweet, sad years” creates images of depression and the “melancholy years” reflects her thoughts and feelings of the sadness that she encounters.

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This also slows the flow of the poem creating a slow rhythm which also reflects Elizabeth’s emotions. Although in the next set she quotes “who by turns had flung, a shadow across me, straight i was ‘ware. ” By this line the tone of the poem changes to a more forceful tone and powerful tone. “Shadow across me “creates a negative image which shows the power and force of the new emotion.

The lines “Straightway i was ‘ware” and “the silver answer rang.. Not death but love. ” Reinforce that she has unexpectedly come to the realisation that she is in love.

In the next sonnet, number 13 Robert has asked Elizabeth to tell him she loves him but she cannot bring herself to do so. She feels a difficulty to say the words. The use of the extended metaphor in the lines “And hold the torch out, where the words are rough, between our faces, to cast light on each. ”The extended metaphor creates a fiery imagery which emphasis love and the ferocity of love for her.

The torch is also a metaphorical representation of her difficulty in bringing out her emotions, she feels surprised and doubt and unusual as she has not experienced love before.Also in this sonnet, Elizabeth finally comes to the decision to let go of the “torch” as she quotes, “i drop it at thy feet. ” She cannot bear to hold the torch any longer and is fearful of saying “i love you” explicitly. This sonnet reinforces her curiosity about love; she is interested in love however hesitant about the implications of it.

She is very unsure, about the grief that love could bring as she feels love has such demands. Elizabeth becomes a little more acceptance although there is sleight disbelief that this love is genuine and pure.In this sonnet she tells her lover what love should be based on. She feels if loves is based on beauty and superficial features, it could change as these things change overtime.

She also does not want him to lover her out of pity as she quotes “Neither love me for thine own pity wiping my cheeks dry! ” by this line she is emphasising that she doesn’t want him to lover her out of pity because she is ill. The exclamation mark and the image of her crying stresses the extent of her emotion towards this issue. Also in this sonnet, Elizabeth quotes “ but love me for love’s sake, that evermore. By this she means that she wants him to lover her for her essential self, she wants recognition of the purity of love.

She wants the love to grow and endure, she wants him to lover her spiritually, not for the physical implications of beauty. The repetition of “loves sake” reinforces her belief of what love should be. In sonnet 21 her emotions and relationship begins to change, she now wants to hear the constant repetition of Robert telling her he loves her. His words are essential to her life as she feels as though she cannot live without hearing them.

Elizabeth uses first person as she says “I, amid the darkness greeted. ” This is emphasising that she has lived in darkness before his love and she doubted his love and her ability to love although now she is comes to the realisation that these words mean much more. There is more positivity in this sonnet than the first sonnet which shows the changes and development of her emotions towards love. At first she is hesitant and unsure and doubtful and then she slightly becomes more positive and feels as though his love is essential for her survival.

She cannot bear to be without him or the love that they both share.

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Elizabet Barret Browning. (2017, May 13). Retrieved from


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