Elizabeth Barrett Browning was born in 1806 and died in 1861. She was one of the most respected English poets of the Victorian era, popular in Britain and the United States during her lifetime.
She married Robert Browning in 1946, and he is thought to be the man inspiration between sonnet 44 and many other of her successful poems.
The oldest of twelve children, Elizabeth was the first in her family born in England in over two hundred years. For centuries, the Barrett family, who were part Creole, had lived in Jamaica, where they owned sugar plantations and relied on slave labor.
2. The themes
Love- Love is a constant theme explored throughput the poem and it is it's primary focus overall. It, as a poem, is written for the sake of 'love', and constantly reminds the reader, and expresses the magnitude of Browning's love towards her significant other. Sonnet 44 is, a poem that shows, or attempts to show, the true scale of a women's love towards a man.
Religion- As this poem was written almost two centuries ago, it is rudimentary to assume Religion would not at least have an underlying theme throughout. Browning was a Christian, and like most Christians in the nineteenth-century, she believed in an afterlife in Heaven. Therefore, one of the focuses of the poem is how her love will be amplified, and purified in Heaven and beyond
3. Relevant Quotes
'How do i love thee? Let me count the ways'- Browning is stating that she loves her significant other endless ways, and that to count them would be a joy to her, as she loves him so.
'I love thee to the depth, and breadths, and heights'- Browning is now stating the volume of her love, (quite literally), and how it has potential to almost fill an infinite amount of space.
'I love thee freeely'- This phrase is short, yet sweet. It shows the poet yearning to express how uncaged she feels, as if her love liberates her and allows her to live freely, without any desires or regrets
4. Relevent quotes continued
'I love thee purely'- This shows how much the poet is proud of her love. She is saying that it's bedrock is not sexual desire, or impurity, but true, unfiltered love, something she is extremley proud of.
'I love thee with passion'-However, this statement much contrasts with the previous one. It shows how the word 'passion'-which is usually used in a sexual sense-is in relation to their love. This may show how sex can be a theme in a happy relationship.
'I shall love thee better after death'- This, in term with Religion, shows Browning's desire to be connected to God, and achieve true happiness in Heaven. It shows how the poet wants to amplify her love by used God and Religion
This poem was written in the nineteenth-century, and is therefore a lot different to how we view love today. Back in the 1800s, we had a very different view of love, as we had to be married to have sexual intercourse, as was the way of society, influenced by Religion.
Of course, as Browning was born into a rich family, she would have been expected to follow the rules of society to the letter, and to be a quiet, yet upstanding member of it. That is what makes this poem special, she is expressing her feeling in a vibrant way, where she should be expected to simply be a quiet serving wife