Analyze and identify the figurative language in "Sonnet 43" by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

Expert Answers
edcon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Elizabeth Barrett Browning's "Sonnet 43," identified by literary critics as addressing the poet's husband, Robert Browning, the speaker begins the poem by expressing metaphorically how she seeks to measure or quantify the love she possesses:

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach

The speaker also uses similes to describe her love to the object of her affection: 

I love thee freely, as men strive for right.

I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.

In addition to similes and metaphors, the speaker uses personification in describing how she loves him: 

To the level of every day's

Most quiet need. . . . 

With the breath,

Smiles, tears, of all my life.

A person, not a life, is capable of breathing, smiling, and shedding tears.

Hyperbole is another form of figurative language, and the poet makes use of it in the many exaggerations of the sonnet such as the similes, metaphors, and personification already noted; additionally, she seems to elevate him to the status of a god when she describes her love for him as replacing or being on par with the passion she felt for God in her "childhood's faith."