Poetry analysis on "How Do I Love Thee" and "Sonnet XVIII"

Essay by strawberry_qteeHigh School, 11th gradeA+, September 2004

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"Sonnet: How Do I Love Thee"

by: Elizabeth Barrett Browning


"Sonnet XVIII"

by: William Shakespeare

Both, Elizabeth Barrett Browning's "How Do I Love Thee" and William Shakespeare's "Sonnet XVIII," explore the universal theme of eternal, transcending love. Similarly, both sonnets are confessions of love towards a male subject. Browning's is a passionate love; one that the Greeks referred to as eros. "Eros is Love, who overpowers the mind, and tames the spirit in the breasts of both gods and men ." Shakespeare's, however, is the love of agape. It is the love one feels for his family, and friends . In dealing with the theme of love, both poems reference the beauty of their emotions, and the everlasting nature of such beauty.

Barrett's "How Do I Love Thee" follows the structure of a Petrarchan sonnet, and is therefore written in iambic pentameter.

It consists of 14 lines, and is divided into an octave and a sestet. The octave has a rhyme scheme of ABBA ABBA. It presents the primary problem facing the author, in this case being the question of her declaration of love. The sestet has a rhyme scheme of CDCDCD. It resolves the problem presented by clarifying the ways in which the author loves her beloved, and claiming that her love would be strengthened in the afterlife.

Shakespeare's "Sonnet XVIII" follows the structure of a classical Shakespearean sonnet, and as such, is written in iambic pentameter. It consists of 14 lines, divided into three quatrains and a rhyming couplet. The rhyme scheme of the first quatrain is ABAB, and introduces the primary notion of the sonnet, it being the comparison of the speaker's beloved to a summer's day. The second quatrain has a rhyme scheme of CDCD, and strengthens...