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The Counting Of Reasons By Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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Elizabeth Barrett Browning‘s sonnet is not written in a typical English form but rather it is an Italian (or Petrarchan) sonnet, having fourteen lines, the first eight being the octave and the final six the sestet, written in iambic pentameter. The octave contains the main idea of the poem and starts with a rhetoric question about what kind of love the speaker feels for “thee”. It is a method of the speaker to convey their feelings by counting the ways of loving another person, even though their love is beyond any limits, spiritual and reaches “the ends of Being and ideal Grace” (I. 4) at the same time. Although the feelings are strong and pure, the speaker remains humble as it is not expected to gain any personal benefit because love is not supposed to be taken for granted (I. 8). In the sestet comes the turn, where the speaker looks back to the past and almost compares the unfortunate experiences and how they have affected their perspective of love concerning the person of interest (II. 11-13). The counting of reasons never stops as the speaker emphasizes that even after death there will be an even greater reason to prove their love with the permission of God.
Throughout the whole poem, the speaker tends to enhance the image of love by using different stylistic devices, such as
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Particularly through the use of simile and anaphora, the speaker of Browning’s “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” provides a vivid definition of what love is and why it exists through time and space. It is a confession of the speaker conveyed to their significant other, where it is suggested that love is both divine and modest in a way that it is infinite and invincible even after death. Both stylistic devices strengthen the image of love created by the speaker with a clear message of virtues and values, so the sonnet becomes effectively
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