The Works of Elizabeth Barrett Browning and F. Scott Fitzgerald

?In what ways does the poetry of EBB and the Great Gatsby reflect both their similarities and differences in their treatment of relationships?

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At the core of relationships are trust, commitment, and love. Both Elizabeth Barrett Browning and F Scott Fitzgerald valued the importance of relationships and especially love. But although they valued love in similar ways the representation of relationships is significantly different and this is a result of the contextual differences for each of the composer’s own social, cultural and historical time. The Victorian attitudes to love and women greatly shaped the poems of EBB and the changes which were occurring to the key social values of the turbulent 1920s in the USA also shaped the way love and relationships are represented in The Great Gatsby.

In all of her sonnets, EBB explores relationships and love as its core. While EBB was certainly influenced by the attitudes and values of her time she was also quite independent and unconventional in her thought and personal attitudes to love. She acknowledged the patriarchal dominance of her times but her elopement and choice of the Petrarchan sonnet shopped her independent thought. Her relationship with the famous poet Robert Browning was intense, powerful, initially in secret and one of the great love stories of time and has provided her with rich material for her Sonnets. The Victorian values of purity, virginity, and chastity were highly valued but EBB is far more candid than many other Victorian writers. Poetry was seen as the domain of men especially the ancient, revered and masculine Petrarchan sonnet was usurped by EBB to explore her own ideas, values, attitudes of her time. So, by using the Petrarchan sonnet she was able to do more than simply expressing a woman’s capacity for love; she deliberately uses an empowered voice which asserts the right of a woman to be strong, passionate, playful and ironic and is no longer some unattainabl…