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How do the hints that perhaps she doesn't love her husband quite as much as she says...

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newtopoetry | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 25, 2012 at 4:36 AM via web

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How do the hints that perhaps she doesn't love her husband quite as much as she says fit in with the rest of the poem? 


"To My Dear and loving Husband" first seems to be just about how much the speaker loves her husband, but the following would suggest otherwise:

- She starts with "if/then" statements.

- She addresses and challenges a group of women in the middle of her speech to her husband. This stands out as odd. Why would she possibly do this?

- The words about money/business: "reward," "repay," etc. 

- "Loving" in the title isn't capitalized, although "Dear" is. Perhaps she is more in love with him than she with her?

How can you explain how these fit in with the rest of the poem? Does she perhaps love him less than she says? Or does she just have trouble expressing that love?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 25, 2012 at 7:34 AM (Answer #1)

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I think that the points you make are real interesting, but I guess that I don't see it.  I don't see that Bradstreet is devaluing or selling short the love she has with her husband.  I think that she is fairly direct in where her intent lies and there is much that conveys a depth of emotion in regards to how she feels about him.  The use of "If/ Then" statements are not ones made out of doubt or questioning, but rather statements that are used to measure the depth of what she feels for him.  The idea of saying, "If" in this case is not conditional as much as expressing intent and commitment.  For example, if I say something like, "If plants need water, then I need you," it is not an expression of doubt.  Plants need water, so the use of "if" is more of a rhetorical device as opposed to legitimately constructing some level of the unknown.  I think that the addressing of women as "ye women" seeks to bring to light how she feels about her husband, almost as a statement of affirmation and power.  Bradstreet addressed this group of women to declare the love she has for her husband.  I sense that she does this with a sense of confidence, something so strong as to break the mores of Puritan culture with a public declaration of something so private.  The invocation of wealth is to merely extend the idea that her love is so strong that it transcends the temporal and mortal condition of money and riches.  This is a love that goes beyond wealth and calculations of treasure, something to convey that the real treasure is the love she has for her husband.  It seems that there might be too much here to refute in terms of how much Bradstreet feels for her husband, something that is authentic and transparent as demonstrated in the poem. 


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