Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote Sonnet 43 during the prime of the Victorian Period, which lasted the duration of Queen Victoria’s throne between 1832 and 1901. Like some of the works during the Victorian period, Sonnet 43 was a reflective piece about the love of her life, Robert Browning. Elizabeth Browning showed this reflection by answering her own posing question, “How do I love thee? ” William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 30 however, was written during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, between 1559 and 1603.
Shakespeare’s Sonnets also were written during the era of the Renaissance, in which political changes such as reformation led to an ultimate rebirth of ideology and innovation.
The theme of Sonnet 43 is intense love that will become stronger after death. Browning begins the sonnet with a question – “How do I love thee? ” In the sonnet, Browning proceeds to find, describe and list the ways in which you can love someone. She says that she loves the subject to the spiritual level. She says that she loves the subject freely and purely with the intensity of the suffering.
Furthermore, she “shall love [him] better after death. ” The dominant figure of speech in the poem is anaphora, the use of “I love thee” in eight lines and “I shall but love thee” in the final line. This repetition builds rhythm while reinforcing the theme. Browning repeats the phrase “I love thee” at the beginning of several lines as an easy way to hold to the unstressed-stressed pattern dictated by iambic meter (line 5). The repetition is extended in the last two lines of the opening octave with the lines, “I love thee freely, as men strive for Right; / I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise” (lines 7-8).
Browning also uses alliteration, as the following examples illustrate: thee, the (lines 1, 2, 5, 9, 12), soul, sight (line 3), and love, level (line 5). Being a Petrarchan sonnet, Sonnet 43 consists of fourteen lines which is made up of an octave and sestet. These stanzas are both in iambic pentameter meaning each line is made up of ten syllables. The rhyme scheme of this sonnet is abba, abba, cdcdcd. There are key differences and similarity of theme and structure between Sonnet 43 by Browning and Sonnet 30 by Shakespeare .
Browning uses the same pentameter on both sonnets. However, the theme was quite different. In Sonnet 43, as analyzed – the mood and tone seems to be much more positive, as the narrator continues to praise various aspects of his/her life. However, in Sonnet 30, the narrator’s tone is much different. The tone is much more depressing, which depicts the fact that the poem’s theme is different. The narrator of Sonnet 30 tended to question him/herself in a rhetorical state, implying that the narrator is very confused and also doubtful.
Both pieces speak of love, but it is quite evident that this subject is portrayed in very different ways. Shakespeare’s words seem to originate from a darker place, one filled with pain and regret. He speaks of love but for things he has lost. This love have sometime make him sad “I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought” but it also sometimes makes him happy “But if the while I think on thee, dear friend, All losses are restored and sorrows end. ”. Browning also speaks of love, but from a more innocent and jovial point of view.
Although these sentiments stem from different places for the two poets, a closer look reveals that they do actually hold some similar feelings about love. They seem to both assert that each’s love is undying and still quite strong after death. Shakespeare states “But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,All losses are restored and sorrows end. ”, whereas Browning states “and, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death. ”. In conclusion, although both works speak of the same feeling from different time periods and mindsets, they are more alike than they appear to be.