The Dimensions of Love: Comparison and Contrast of Bradstreet’s “To My Dear Loving Husband” and Browning’s “How Do I Love

Thee”
Submitted by: Hannah Riesa Abangan III-14 AB/BSE Literature Though these two people have a 230 year gap, it is observed that Bradstreet and Browning share a lot of commonalities in various areas. For one, they both are prolific writers of their time and profess the same Puritan faith. Both of them also came from well-off families yet suffer from poor health. There are a lot more similarities but the most evident among these is that both of them share a happy and a passionate marriage. In their poems “To My Dear Loving Husband” and “How Do I Love Thee”, the readers are presented a clear imagery of a lover who is madly and deeply in love with her partner. For one, Anne Bradstreet takes pride that no woman could match the love she feels for her husband. If ever wife was happy in a man, Compare with me, ye women, if you can. In the same way, Browning starts her poem by counting her love as though she has forgotten how exactly big it is due to its enormity. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. What is interesting with these two women and their poems is that both of them are trying to grasp the scope of their love. However, as both women share the similarity in their poems of gauging love, they also differ with the measure they use in determining how really great their love is for their spouses. Bradstreet measured hers in terms to its size whereas Browning weighed hers in regards to its ways. In her poem, Bradstreet wrote how much she loves her spouse and how greater her love is compared to the things she has enumerated in her poem. The first thing she has made into comparison is between her love and the wealth of the world. I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold Or all the riches that the East doth hold. In here, she said that the love of her husband is more important to her than the unimaginable size of wealth that the East (Asia) probably has. Other than a reflection of her Puritan beliefs that simplicity should be prized higher than vanity, Anne tells that she values her husband (and his love) more than any

though gigantic. Browning views this three-dimensional . She argues that the size of her love is greater and more powerful than nature. She tells that her love for her husband is big and strong as if a raging river cannot just simply wash it away. this is another reflection of her Puritan belief of simplicity: Bradstreet isn’t exaggerating nor adding bigger comparisons than the necessary. Bradstreet measured her love with the power of nature. For Bradstreet. This is a great claim considering the fact that this is written during a period where the early immigrants are still coping with the conditions of the land and resources are valued because they are scarce. My love is such that Rivers cannot quench. she comes to a halt that her love. measures her love not by how much but by how. The heavens reward thee manifold. This may seem like Bradstreet’s since the first descriptions pertain to the scope of Browning’s love. And as she is measuring the size of her adoration. In the same way. The fact that she drew a limit to her love tells that her measurement of her affections is honest. I pray Again. on the other hand. her husband will still be greater than her in all things. …Nor ought but love from thee give recompense Thy love is such I can no way repay. She also means that her feelings are enormous enough that nothing can satisfy her nor stop her from loving. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach.physical matter that the world can offer her.including the size of her affections. She then proceeds with the list of the ways of how she shows her love for her husband.will always seem small compared to the love that her husband lavishes on her. But Bradstreet knows where her limitations lie. Browning. She acknowledges that the extent of her love is grand but she also accepts that her husband’s love is grander. Browning tells that she loves three-dimensionally. The above lines also reflect another Puritan belief of a wife’s submission to her husband. Now it may seem to the readers that Bradstreet implies that the scope of her love is generally boundless. However. when feeling out of sight For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.

I love thee freely. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach Browning caps the how of her love only as far as she perceives it to be. there is no comparison of the greatness of her love to her husband’s. she will still continue to love her husband. of all my life! – If Bradstreet measures in quantity. like Bradstreet. She then continues with her list.love as one of the many ways of expressing her love. I love thee to the level of everyday's Most quiet need. as men strive for Right. her love for him remains always the same. then thee . In the further lines. I love thee purely. She gauges her love to the extent that even if she is sad or happy. Smiles. Browning shows her Puritan-ness by keeping her description honest and simple as possible. … I love thee with the breath. by sun and candle-light.” However.showing that the extent of her love goes beyond rewards and obligations. this time describing her love as steady and unchanging. the idea of an unconditional sense of love that Browning is giving to her husband gets the same feel as Bradstreet’s short conditional statement: If ever man were loved by wife. But again like Bradstreet’s image of unquenchable love. Browning measures hers in quality. she also tells that her feelings –like how a man needs light. She likens her love to the sun or candle-light that has a steady shine or flicker. as they turn from Praise Ironically. She is basically telling her spouse that no matter what happen. tears. She measures it based on how freely she gives it. Browning supports her previous claim of unconditional love not by evaluating her affections on how much her husband loves her or on her obligation as a wife to love her husband. But unlike Bradstreet. It is as if she is telling “I love you greatly” as opposed to Bradstreet’s “I love you this great.also make her needing for her husband’s love.

org/bio/anne-bradstreet . Poetry Foundation.wikipedia. the free encyclopedia. The readers are only given abstract limits of their love. Anne Bradstreet : The Poetry Foundation. she will still retain her belief on her husband. Retrieved June 24. …and.Wikipedia. the concept of love remains immeasurable by human standards. Retrieved June 24. one arrives at two conclusions: First is that there is no definite measure of how and how much these two poets love their husbands. from http://www.though both Puritan in belief and nature. I love thee with the passion put to use In my old griefs. R. Shmoop: Homework Help. Then while we live. Wikipedia. and with my childhood's faith.shmoop. the free encyclopedia. 2012. 2012.poetryfoundation. Teacher Resources. from http://en. Test Prep. (n. References: Elizabeth Barrett Browning . from http://www. (n. Second is that Browning and Bradstreet may have different ways of measuring their love but that doesn't mean that one's love is greater than the other. I love thee with a love I seemed to lose With my lost saints – By comparing and contrasting the two poems. I shall but love thee better after death.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Barrett_Browning How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. (n. if God choose. It only reflects that these writers.d.d. 2012. in love let's so persevere That when we live no more. Retrieved June 24. Browning maintains the Puritan ideal of a wife’s submission by having faith in her husband in the same way a child would believe in his “heroes”.And in the same way as Bradstreet’s.d.).com/how-do-i-lovethee-sonnet-43/ Lowell. (Sonnet 43). She measures her love for him in a way that even if a child gets disappointed with his “heroes” when he grows up. Thus.still retain their own individuality and that their love is equally strong and genuine to the point that both of them wish to be with their partners even after death.). we may live ever.).

d. & audience. Teacher Resources.To My Dear and Loving Husband.shmoop.org/wiki/Anne_Bradstreet . the free encyclopedia. Retrieved June 24. the free encyclopedia. 2012. B.). Anne Bradstreet . (n.com/to-my-dear-loving-husband/ works. 2012. from http://en. from http://www.Wikipedia.d. h. Wikipedia. Retrieved June 24. r.. Test Prep. r. (n. Shmoop: Homework Help.wikipedia.).

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