1. Explain how the techniques of rhetorical question and parallelism dominate the poem's structure.
2. What autobiographical elements does the poem contain?
3. What images imply that the persona loves with her entire being?
4. What political and religious values does the poem reveal?
5. What does the speaker's definition of love reveal about the character of the speaker herself?
6. Describe the specific ways in which the poet uses the rhyming patterns of the sonnet to organize and emphasize her meaning, indicating whether the sonnet is Italian (Petrarchan) or English (Shakespearean), where the volta (turn) occurs, and how the thesis of the octave is addressed by the sestet.
"The sonnets of Elizabeth Barrett Browning are considered by many to be the most genuine and the most skilled expressions of love in English literature. These critics point to the emotional unity of her poems, to her sensitivity in choosing the exact words and details necessary to convey her feelings. Others think that the feelings in these sonnets are overexpressed, that her poems attempt to communicate more emotion than is appropriate to the means, or that the poet has not set forth sufficient concrete details to support her feelings. Form your own opinion on these questions with special attention to Sonnet 43." — Leopold Damrosch et al., Adventures in English Literature, Heritage Edition (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1980) 605.
8. In the Cornhill Magazine (1874), poetry-reviewer "G. B. S." [George Bernard Shaw?] remarked of Sonnets from the Portugese: "To us they seem to fulfil all the requisites of the sonnet, including strength, imagery, sweetness, propprtion or art, and massiveness" (486). How does Sonnet 43 exhibit all these "requisites"?
9. The Cornhill's reviewer also remarks, "Intellect and passion are combined in them in an equal degree and together fused into wondrous music."What evidence does Sonnet 43 provide to support this evaluation?
10. What evidence does Sonnet 43 provide to indicate that
- it was written by a woman?
- it is not a translation from a Romance language?
- the author was familiar with classical literature?
- the author was an invalid?
Last modified 30 July 2004