Type: Literary Analysis
Pages: 4 | Words: 957
Reading Time: 4 Minutes

Form refers to the arrangement, organization, or the framework of any literary composition: building, arranging, and coordinating segments of a composition for a pleasant result. Context on the other hand refers to the historical and contemporary info surrounding a literary work. It explains when the work was written, who and what influenced the writer, how the society was like during composition, and the specific period that the text was written and when it was set. This document examines how Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby, reveal a new response to the values explored in Browning poems, sonnets of the Portuguese. The sonnets were written during the Victorian era, a period of peace and prosperity for Britain, which commenced on 20th June 1887 to 22nd January 1901. The novel was written during the Jazz age, starting from 1920, which was also a period of economic prosperity. It lasted for only a decade.

Response to Sonnets of the Portuguese

The major themes in the two texts revolve around love, though it is also possible that Elizabeth, in the sonnets, was also discussing her fallout with religion. The inserted footnotes in the anthology, in explaining the poet’s use of the expression “lost saints” reveal that she is particularly referring to her brother. Use of the religious diction such as “faith” and “saints” may be interpreted as relevant in the realm of education. Alongside diction is the imagery that reflects to the past and misplacing something both of which depict a woman figure who despite being in love, has lost touch with her spirituality but finds a counterpart in her lover. She firstly attaches her faith to her infancy, naming it “the child’s faith”. Associating something to childhood means that Elizabeth’s faith lasted as long as her infancy had lasted but had no influence in her present life. Childhood is also coupled with blamelessness and in the bible children are treasured due to their innocence. When the word faith is used, it has some spiritual connotations but when associated with infancy, it becomes ambivalent spiritual: making it difficult to interpret or difficult to break.

Elizabeth later mentions about loss twice and connects it with “saints”. By the lines “I love thee with a love I seemed to lose with my lost saints” (53-54), the poet is trying to explain that she lost her concern for the saints and that the saints are themselves lost. She also uses the word love to mean two types of love: spiritual and erotic love. The very first time that she mentions love: “I love thee”, she is referring to erotic love for her lover. In her second use of the word, the poet is talking about the spiritual love and she associates it with the saints. The love is particularly attached to the attached saints, which she differentiates from the affection between two ordinary people (Rhoswen, 2012).

Comparing the two works, differences between form and context can be identified. To start with, Browning’s work is in the form of sonnets whereas Scott Fitzgerald’s work is a novel. This has the implication that methods used in analyzing one genre cannot be used in analyzing the other. Sonnets require that the entire work be organized in such a way that each poem has fourteen short lines. The rhyme, rhythm and alliteration among others are the main constituents of the sonnets that enhance simplicity, clarity and a precision. Novels on the other hand are written in continuous prose and all the ideas are fused together as a single idea. The love experience in the sonnets is from a perspective of a young woman who lived “sweet and sad years”. Being surpassed by love is explained as complex in an ambivalence manner: both exciting and disturbing. Since the poems were a dedication to her husband during their distressed courtship, identifying the voice used by the poet is reasonable. Values reflected in the first sonnet are that love can be used to transform a life. In the Great Gatsby, Nick Carraway identifies some mistakes in Gatsby’s surrender for is visions to Daisy’s “perishable breath”. Gatsby’s past had played a role in assisting him identify him as the persona’s past in the sonnet. Gatsby however accepted what life offered and worked hard to rebuild himself. Here, the perspective learnt is that it is questionable that love can transform life.

In another perspective, the woman in the poems-sonnet 13- is reluctant to show love either through feelings or in words because she doubts her own feelings. This sonnet illustrates both a tense fear of revealing love emotions and the pride for those feelings. The sonnet can thus be deemed to be a perception of a 19th century woman who understands the risks associated with falling in love. She declares humility and vigilance in not expressing her love, with the fear that she might expose her grief and presumably ruin the relationship. The value drawn from this perspective is that grief experience might enhance love. In the novel, Gatsby simplifies the relationship between words and feelings: Daisy does not use the right words. As such, Gatsby is seeking a public expression of emotions.


Generally, both the novel and the sonnets reflect on love and there are other similarities between their content. In the sonnets, a woman focuses on loving and also being loved whereas in the novel, Nick Carraway narrates of a man whose wish was to recapture love. It is also evident that whereas the novel assesses the senselessness of romantic love, the sonnets regard love as sacred. Both the novel and the sonnets may be considered as edition or sub-edition of Courtly love due to their parallelism. Finally, whereas the novel explains about how time may change love, the sonnets view time as a limiting factor to love.

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