What are some examples of personification and simile in Sonnet 43 by Elizabeth Barrett Browning and "Remembrance" by Emily Bronte?

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rmhope eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnet 43 contains two similes, and Emily Bronte's "Remembrance" contains personification. In Browning's poem, she compares the way she loves Robert Browning to the way "men strive for right." She believes that her love for him is a chosen pursuit, worthy of sacrifice and worthy of praise. She also compares her love to the way men "turn from praise." Those who don't lap up the praise they receive show that their deeds are done for pure motives, not to win the acclaim of an audience. These two lines are similes because they create comparisons by using the word "as."

In "Remembrance," two examples of personification are evident. In the line "And even Despair was powerless to destroy," the word "Despair" is capitalized, indicating Bronte means to personify it. Although one might think that despair, as an emotion, has the power to destroy, and so this need not be personification, by capitalizing the word Bronte intends to give it more force, making the emotion a thinking, breathing villain intent on ruining the speaker's life. The other personification is also unusual: "Weaned my young soul from yearning after thine." One might think that a soul cannot be personified because it is already human, or part of a human. Yet a soul is an intangible part of a person, and in this line, Bronte makes it as tangible as a human infant who must be weaned from nursing at his or her mother's breast, thereby personifying it.

Browning's sonnet contains no personification, and Bronte's poem contains no similes, but between the two poems, one can find two examples of each.

linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Barrett Browning's Sonnet 43 is the famous "How Do I Love Thee?" poem. She uses several literary devices in this sonnet, including rhythm, meter, and alliteration. As for personification (attributing human characteristics to an inanimate object) and simile (a comparison using the word "like" or "as"), I can find no examples in this poem. You might count lines 7 and 8, where she compares her love to men who strive for Right and those who turn from Praise, as similes:

I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.

However, that seems like a stretch to me.

The same is true of "Remembrance," by Emily Bronte. There is a definite rhyme scheme (ABAB), loads of imagery, and other literary devices. However, there is neither personification nor simile in this poem.

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