What is Love? Baby Don’t Hurt Me

Sonnet 32 by Elizabeth Browning is a sentimental poem that provides a complicated picture of love. The overall impression of the poem is a sense of doubt and unworthiness of the love between Elizabeth and Robert. The negative impression is what makes the picture of love so complicated, most consider love to be associated with purity and goodness. In doubting it Elizabeth catches the attention of her reader. The first five lines of the poem describe a pessimistic appraisal of the early stages of love. They seem to come from the mind of someone who is afraid of commitment, or in other words getting hurt. Elizabeth would be the kind of person to say, “If it seems too good to be true it probably is.”

The sixth line is where we see an important change. From the sixth line to the end we see Elizabeth describing herself as unworthy of Robert’s love and simultaneously exalting Robert. If the beginning lines stood alone we could read this as a satirical poem, but Elizabeth establishes the poem as sentimental by showing us her insecurities. When Elizabeth shows us that she doesn’t feel worthy of Robert’s love we know that she is being honest and sincere because people generally don’t lie about such intimate feelings. Her humility is what shows the reader that she does deserve Robert’s love despite writing the contrary.

Sonnet 32 shows a complicated sentimental picture of love because it says, “This is probably not real lasting love, even if it were I’m not worthy of your love because you’re so great.” If a girl that I loved said that to me it would make me want to convince her that we did have lasting love and that I was the one who was lucky to have someone so great.

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