Barret Browning and the Great Gatsby - Love

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The language forms and features, ideas, values and attitudes conveyed in Barrett-Browning's 'Sonnets from the Portugese' (1845) and Fitzgerald's American novel 'The Great Gatsby' (1926) are heavily influenced by their respective historical, social and cultural contexts. Both texts explore similar themes and recurring human values, but only to a ceratain extent; as they are written in different times, it affects their contexts and hence their perspectives on these values. Barrett-Browning's poems aim to address gender issues in her time such as female expectations and petrarchan form, but more importantly discuss the significance of love, and the idea of an ideal or spiritual love. Fitzgerald examines similar themes and values in 'The Great Gatsby'; however, his viewpoint on these themes are affected by his context. Thus, through comparing 'The Great Gatsby' and Barrett-Browning's poems, we are able to identify how differing contexts can shape meaning and alter perspectives. Both texts deal with the themes and concepts of ideal and pure love, but having been written in different times produces contrasting contexts, and hence differing perspectives. Barrett-Browning's poems take on the Petrarchan form to challenge courtly love and the idea of pure love, as opposed to Gatsby's infinite hunger for platonic love which is unattainable in a materialistic world; a world that lacked strong moral grounding taints the purity of love. Barrett-Browning's initial response to love is realistic, unsure and being cautious in her approach, "Lest one touch of his heart convey its grief". Throughout the sonnet it is evident that she prefers pure love more than any other, "If thou must love me let it be for nought, but for love's sake only". On the other hand, Fitzgerald's context of prohibition, consumerism and post-war disillusionment greatly differs from Barrett-Browning's context.
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