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What's the main theme in "How Do I Love Thee" By Elizabeth Barett Browning?

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salmashahawy18 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 5, 2010 at 12:12 AM via web

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What's the main theme in "How Do I Love Thee" By Elizabeth Barett Browning?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 5, 2010 at 12:19 AM (Answer #1)

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Of course, the major theme of this poem is love.  The poet is talking about the emotion of love and she is exploring the different aspects of that emotion.

In the poem, she shows love from a variety of perspectives.  She talks about love being a quiet, everyday sort of thing.  But she also talks about love being a passionate thing.

Anyone who has loved another for a long period of time knows that there are all sorts of different aspects of this emotion.  The poet is bringing these aspects out in this poem.

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

Posted April 5, 2010 at 9:09 AM (Answer #2)

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Yep, love- that sounds about right.  I would say that one of the driving forces or themes behind Browning's sonnet is that love can be redescribed in a variety of ways.  Just as one's true love for another is limitless, so are the metaphors or images that help to convey it.  In the sonnet, the speaker employs a variety of such descriptions to convey the feelings towards another.  There is a powerful notion here that argues that the more one can authentically express one's love to another, the greater that bond is because it has taken a hold in another part of the world.  The love conveyed in the sonnet is both of this world and outside it just as it is described in terms that are both spiritual and political.  In the redescription of love, a greater understanding of it exists.

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