Analysis of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnet 14
Sonnet 14 Analysis
In Sonnet 14 by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the narrator of the poem is the poet herself. The reader can determine that Browning is the narrator through the use of the pronoun ‘me’ and the word, “mine”. The purpose of the poem is to convey a message to the narrator’s lover. The narrator is telling her lover that he should love her for her who she is ‘on the inside’, and not love her for her physical attributes. The speaker does not completely trust her lover, because she feels that he only loves her because of how she looks or her ability to write. The narrator is hoping that her lover does not love her out of pity. Elizabeth is telling her lover that he should not love her for qualities that are changeable and unreliable, but for “love’s sake” because that is the only love that lasts.
The poem is written as one continuous fourteen line stanza. The stanza begins with the narrator telling her lover that if he must love her, then he cannot love her for her physical qualities, or her way of speaking. She says that if he loves her for physical characteristics or her way of speaking, then those qualities may change and he will not love her any more. She tells her lover that he cannot love her because he wants to dry her tears, because her tears will eventually dry and he will not love her anymore. She asks her lover to love her because he wants to, because if he loves her for “love’s sake”, then their love will last. What is unique about the poem is that the poem does not have a title, and instead the first phrase of the first line of the poem is often used as a title for the poem. The author gives the poem a tentative first phrase because she says “If thou must love me” stating that she is still uncertain about the relationship she has with her lover, the fact that the narrator is tentative about the love that she and her lover share is strange because Sonnets area typically about the narrator being in love, not the narrator...