“How Do I Love Thee?” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning Analysis

The article, “How Do I Love Thee?” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning Analysis intends to unfold the underlying meaning of this superb poem. The poem appeared in a famous collection, Sonnets from the Portuguese, in 1850. The poem revolves around the speaker’s romantic adoration of her beloved. It also paints a vivid picture of her eternal bond that will unite her to her beloved even after her demise. It brilliantly shows the speaker’s unending passion for him. She loves him immensely and longs for the same intensity even after death.


The poem begins with the proclamation of infinite love. Then, the speaker addresses her beloved and intends to count the ways of loving him. She claims that she loves him to the edges of her soul when it reaches out to chase the unreachable objects. She further adds, loving him day and night is the right thing for her to do. To her, loving one’s beloved without self-regard is an obligation.

Therefore, she evokes her religious faith in order to liken her romantic love to spiritual feelings. It seems that her beloved has marked the center of her life that she loved him with every smile, tear, breath, and rest of her life. Moreover, she does not want to limit these unique feelings to the world. Instead, she desires to carry the same passion afterlife. She wants to adore him even when she exits this world.

Major Themes in “How Do I Love Thee?

Infinite love, faith, and adoration are some of the significant themes of the poem. Through the text, the writer calls ways to adore her beloved. She brilliantly connects her unique love to her religious faith. By doing so, she takes her passion to the highest level. To her, love can conquer anything in the world. Therefore, she tries to strengthen her bond with her beloved by loving him religiously.

At the outset, she tries to present the depth of her love, using analogies between love and religion. Later, she accounts for the unique quality of her love when she says that it will remain the same even after death. Thus, the poem revolves around the passionate lover, who tries to love her significant other applying various ways.

Analysis of Literary and Poetic Elements in “How Do I Love Thee?” by Elizabeth Barrett

Literary and poetic devices are used by the writers to make their texts appealing and convincing for the readers. Browning has also added many poetic as well as literary techniques in the poem to bring uniqueness in it. The analysis of the devices is as follows.

Literary Devices

  1. Assonance: Assonance shows the repeated occurrence of the same sounds in the same line such as /e/ and /i/ in sounds in “I love thee freely, as men strive for right.”
  2. Anaphora: Anaphora shows the repetition of any expression or word in the first part of verses. Elizabeth has repeated the word “love” in the poem to make her meanings clear.
  3. Consonance: Consonance shows the repetition of consonant sounds in any verse such as /t/ and /h/ sounds in “thee with the breath.”
  4. Enjambment: Enjambment refers to a clause or thought that does not complete at the end of a sentence. Instead, it rolls on to the next lines. Elizabeth has used this technique in the poem to emphasize her point.
  5. Imagery:  Imagery is used to make the readers create imagine to what the writer wants to convey. Elizabeth has used this device effectively to make the readers visualize her captivating ways of loving.
  6. Metaphor: Metaphor is making implied comparison between two opposite things. The writer has used love as an extended metaphor in the poem to show how it empowers a person and makes him feel special.

Poetic Devices

  1. Sonnet: A sonnet is a fourteen line poem that carries one single idea throughout the text. “How Do I Love Thee” is a Petrarchan sonnet.
  2. Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows ABBAABBA rhyme scheme in the first part. While in the second part it follows CDCD rhyme scheme.
  3. Repetition: Repetition is used in a poem to lay stress on a specific idea. The writer has repeated the phrase “I Love thee” throughout the poem.

Let’s Sum Up!

The article, “How Do I Love Thee? By Elizabeth Barrett Browning Analysis” brilliantly summarizes the phenomenon of infinite love described in the poem. As Always, if you have any question, feel free to ask in the comment section.

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