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Discuss the treatment of the theme of love in Elizabeth Barnett Browing's , 'L.E.L.', and Christina Rossettis, 'A Birthday'.

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Discuss the treatment of the theme of love in Elizabeth Barnett Browing's , 'L.E.L.', and Christina Rossettis, 'A Birthday'. The two poems, 'L.E.L.' and 'A Birthday', which I have studied where both written by female poets in the Victorian period. At that time, a woman's ambition was to get married and have children. They had no independence at all once they got married; they were their husband's property. If a woman didn't get married or if they were divorced, then they could be treated like outcasts. These two female poets however broke away from this trend. They have both displayed very good work and this fact have made them very successful. First I will look at Elizabeth Barrett Browning's poem, 'L.E.L'. L.E.L. stands for Letitia E. Landon (1802-1838) was a pioneer female poet who killed herself after a brief, unhappy marriage. Elizabeth Barrett Browning saw her as someone who was, 'thirsty for a little love'. The poem is a dramatic monologue. Elizabeth B. Browning is imagining what it was like for Letitia E. Landon. She tries to imagine what Letitia E. Landon feels and what drove her into killing herself. In this poem there are many sensory images. In verses 1-4, Browning stayed with the theme of springtime e.g. ...read more.


In verses three-six, Browning used the identical rhyming scheme symbolising the lack of difference of Landon's daily routine e.g. "dove, move, prove" etc. In each of the six verses, the fourth line is the same with slight variation in each, "My love is breaking for a little love". This is a constant reminder of her pain and suffering throughout the poem. In the poem there are many tactile images, "rabbit thins his fur". The fur could be used to contrast it to Landon's frozen heart. Fur can be seen as being warm and secure, which Landon clearly isn't. There are also images of olfactory e.g. "sprout green lavender with rosemary and myrrh". The myrrh is a sweet smelling plant but in Letitia E. Landon's life, she was unable to smell anything pretty or sweet because she was too depressed. There are also images of sound, "beehives wake and whirr". This is onomatopoeic and highlights the fact that Letitia E. Landon felt that she had nothing to wake up for in the morning. The next poem is called, 'A Birthday', by Christina Rossetti. She like Elizabeth Barnett Browning, wrote her poem during the Victorian period. In contrast however, her poem is about 'happy love'. ...read more.


Also there are olfactory images in the poem, "Silver fleurs-de-lys". These are lilies, which smell of the perfume of love. In this poem, Christina Rossettis uses this imagery to brag about her happiness. She wrote this poem from her heart. It is evident that "love has crowned her life", and is sincere in everything which she writes. After studying both poems it was very evident that the two poems contrasted greatly from each other. Elizabeth Barrett Browning's poem, 'L.E.L.' was about sad love. Letitia E. Landon had fell so low after love had distructed her life that she couldn't live with the pain. She was driven to suicide. Letitia E. Landon found her springtime when she died. She was relieved with all the agony and pain that love had caused her. However 'A Birthday' by Christina Rossettis had a more positive attitude to love. Love had made her feel wealthier and spiritually richer. She wished to celebrate her feeling everyday and share it with everyone. It was the reason that she looked forward to living! Out of the two poems I felt that both poets were very clever in the way they used language and images to display their feelings towards love. Out of the two however I preferred 'A Birthday' by Christina Rossettis', as it was so fragrant and merry. There was no depression or misery mentioned anywhere and I would hope that love would have that effect. ...read more.

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