William Shakespeare and Elizabeth Browning Essay

William Shakespeare and Elizabeth Browning each wrote a series of sonnets; Shakespeare’s work, using his variation of the sonnet and Browning’s, using the Petrarchan style. In particular, “Sonnet 18″ and Sonnet 43,” (both of which are about how much the speakers love their partners) use great language and expression. They each show love in its deepest forms. Shakespeare confirms his love for his lady friend, while Browning illustrates her love for her husband and how it has grown. Both sonnets are similar in their representation of love, but they differ in their tone, imagery, and expression of love.

The selected sonnets are written using a different tone and word selection. “Sonnet 18” is Shakespeare comparing his lady to a summer day, and then he goes writing how the wonderful summer is not as great as his lady. Shakespeare also wrote this sonnet with hope and certainty. He says in the end, “Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade, / When in eternal lines to time thou growest.” (Line11-12) In this quote, Shakespeare says that death will not find, claim, or bring his lady into the afterlife; he says this because he knows his verse, or sonnet will keep her spirit alive forever. This is different from the tone and voice Browning uses in “Sonnet 43.” Browning describes her feeling of love and allure by abstractly measuring what love actually means to her. In her first line, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways,” she is reassuring herself of her love and feelings by stating the ways. She also frequently says, “I love thee,” in her poem, which lets the reader and the speaker know that her love is true and very sincere.

Browning uses a hopeful voice in her sonnet and she knows that if she tells herself what is, she will then know it is viable and verified that she loves her husband. These poems both are composed about love, but their use of altered tone and ways of showing the reader differ. Both Shakespeare and Browning’s poems about love individually use different examples of imagery to show the reader how plentiful their love truly was. Shakespeare shows the reader very well in comparison of his lady to a summer day, “And summer’s lease hath all too short a date/ Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines/ And often is his gold complexion dimm’d/ And every fair from fair sometime declines.” (Line 4-7) In these four lines Shakespeare describes the negatives of summer compared to how great his lover is. Shakespeare says that summer is too short and that the sun is too hot. If the sun is not out it too often will hide behind clouds, and that the beautiful summer has to come to a completion each year.

These verses implant an image into the reader’s head, which demonstrates a good use of imagery. Like Shakespeare, Browning uses imagery, but she uses different kinds of examples. One of her main images she projects to the reader is her faith as a child. Browning shows this when she says, “I love thee with the passion put to use/ In my old greifs, and with my childhood’s faith/ I love thee with a love I seemed to lose/ With my lost saints!”(Line 9-12) She demonstrates that she loves him so deeply that is equal to the experience during suffering or loss. Browning also shows that she loves him like the impossible faith of a child that she used to have and she lost it when she gained age. These two authors show their readers how much they love their partners, while using different tone and images, but they also express their love in different ways.

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Shakespeare and Browning both love their partners, but they express it in different ways. Shakespeare intends on keeping his love and lady alive forever by writing this poem, Shakespeare knows that she will stay alive in his verse forever, ” So as long as men can breathe or eyes can see, /So long lives this and this gives life to thee.” (Line 13-14) Not only does Shakespeare us the compare-contrast method of expressing his live, but he also pulls the negatives out of beautiful summer and turns them into the positives of his lover. Browning gives a brief description of her childhood faith and she expresses how she loves him like she loved the saints like when she was little. She also trusts her husband to love through all the maladies that she has encountered throughout her life.

The reader also notes that Browning loves with every single piece of her body and that she would not change anything about her partner as he has already achieved perfection. Each of these two sonnets expresses love in different ways left to be interpreted by the reader. Out of Shakespeare and Browning’s sonnet collections, these two sonnets are the two that stood out and lived in our culture. These sonnets illustrate compassion indefinitely. With different tones, pictures, images, and choices, the authors demonstrate how much and why they love their partners. “Sonnet 18” and “Sonnet 43” are poems of love and exuberance and they share some similarities in what they tell us about love; however, they are dissimilar in their tone, use of imagery, and how they express their love.

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