If Thou Must Love Me, Let It Be For Nought (Sonnet 14) Themes
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The poem explores the true meaning of love, and what makes love last. It notes that fleeting, worldly and changeable things like appearance, smile or emotions based on situations aren’t the right reasons to love someone. Love shouldn’t have a reason, because then it is doomed to fail. True love is love for love’s sake.
Time is the main enemy to love, because time changes one’s appearance, thoughts or emotions. The poem notes that true love can surpass the curse of time, when those things that are bound to time aren’t the reason for love. The final line, “love’s eternity”, suggests that true love, for love’s sake, can defeat time because it is not bound by reasons which are changeable with time.
The poem reveals the ideas connected to femininity during the Victorian era. “Speaking gently” is a trait of femininity, and is suggested to be one of the main reason the opposite sex falls in love with the woman. Another important element shown in the poem is the concept of feminine fragility, suggested in the lines where the speaker mentions the act of wiping the fragile female’s cheeks dry from tears as one of the reasons of falling in love.
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Study Guide for If Thou Must Love Me, Let It Be For Nought (Sonnet 14)
If Thou Must Love Me, Let It Be For Nought (Sonnet 14) study guide contains a biography of Elizabeth Browning, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.