Theme Of Feminism In Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnets

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Love Sonnets or a Work of Feminism? Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnets from the Portuguese is a collection of poems of a personal telling of her love for Robert Browning. In the 19th century, women were not given the same rights or treated the same as men. This set of poems was a woman confessing her love for a man, rather than a man confessing his love for a woman, which was very different from the usual writing of the time. Sonnets are a form of poetry used for love, usually a man addressing a woman. This work shows a challenge to the usual tradition and notion of gender inequality. Browning was not even planning to publish these poems because she knew that women were not viewed the same as men at the time, but her husband Robert insisted …show more content…
Browning defies these ideas by deciding to break these normal traditions and start writing instead. Not only does she break the norm of only being a wife and mother, but also she writes in a form that is traditionally used by men. Sonnets are for professing love to another, which was typically only used by men. This was a way for Browning to show that women were equal to men, that they were capable of working and capable of being strong willed just like a man. This is shown in sonnet V, “I lift my heavy heart up solemnly, as once Electra her sepulchral urn, and, looking in thine eyes, I over-turn the ashes at thy feet (Sonnet 5, 1-4)”. She is using these lines to show how deeply she loves this man, and that she is not afraid to confess how deeply she loves him. This was conventionally done by men, but she has switched the roles confessing her love for her husband. She shows that women are strong by being demanding of his love rather than sounding like a weak girl wanting his love. This is shown in Sonnet 14, “If thou must love me, let it be for naught except for love’s sake only. Do not say ‘I love her for her smile—her look—her way of speaking gently,”. Browning is using this as a way to show that women can demand things from men just the same as a man can demand things from women. Men at this …show more content…
Women not only had fewer rights than men, but were also just viewed as not equivalent to men. They were thought of as wives and mothers and that their highest calling in life was motherhood. Many of the women of the time were not even given the chance to receive an education, so there were very few female writers and those that were writers wrote in certain styles that were acceptable for women. In these sonnets it was not her main point to try to get across a sense of feminism and to help make these advances for women, but she managed to do so anyway. Her main focus was simply to write a set of love sonnets just like any man would do for a woman because she loved her husband so dearly. In fact, Browning was not even planning to publish this work, but her husband insisted that publish it. These strong willed sonnets that she only meant to write for love ended up to help future female writers to make the same bold choices that she made. She could have changed literature for women and helped to show that women were equal to men with one small set of love

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