The theme I chose was marriage. I’m very fascinated with love and how a person falls so in love with one person and vow their self to just one person. In Anne Bradstreet’s “To My Dear Loving Husband” and Emily Dickinson’s “I Gave Myself to Him”, they both discuss marriage and how love is risky. The poems have a comparison but they have differences as well. One poem shows love while another grows to love someone. These poems stood out the most to me.
Although marriage is a union between two people and you vow yourself to commit to one person your entire life, marriage can also be very risky in some cases.
In the poem “I Gave Myself to Him”, Dickinson grows to love her husband. The poem was written in the 19th century, where most marriages were made out of convenience and had a negative tone. The poem was based around the theme marriage. Throughout the poem, she uses financial language and compares her marriage to a contract.
She feels as if she has given herself to a man to provide for her and will become worthless.
In the beginning, Emily Dickinson begins by saying “I gave myself to him …. And took himself for pay”, which shows marriages were more of a contract than a submission of everlasting love between two people. She was becoming a housewife for her husband while he became the provider for the household. Dickinson says, “Than this great purchaser suspect”, she felt she was purchased by him, her husband.
She describes her marriage by saying it isn’t a symbol of love. She is gaining wealth from her husband while her husband is gaining a wife resulting in which she calls a “mutual gain”. In the 19th centuries, marriages were arranged and made out of convenience. Around this time bride-wealth was around. Bride-wealth was when women are valuable and the men pay cash for the right to marry the woman.
Dickinson says “The wealth might disappoint, myself a poorer prove, than this great purchaser suspect, the daily own Love”, which is significant because she believes her lover, “great purchaser”, may not be ready for the end result, which them becoming poor. She describes her marriage as financial and legal terms. She references the word “poorer” as marriage vows, “for richer, for poor”. She starts to think about their future as a married couple and their financial state they will be in because she feels success and wealth may be a disappointment to her husband. Emily Dickinson feels she has given up herself for a man, including her success and wealth, and will eventually be a poor woman. As a woman in the 19th century, being a housewife you took care of all responsibilities and your work was not being appreciated, therefore you begin to feel worthless in the marriage.
Emily Dickinson finally says at the end, “At least, ‘t is a mutual risk-, some found it mutual gain, sweet debt of life-each night to owe, insolvent every noon”, which is significant because she thinks that her marriage could be in shambles or “ruined”, but could be in love with each other so much that they will forever be unable to pay their debt they owe each other. She describes her and her husband as one, and how they both owe each other love “each night”. She wants her and her husband to perform sexual acts for each other “each night”. She uses the word “insolvent” which means they are both are unable to pay the debt that is owed. Dickinson includes “sweet debt of life”, meaning if it isn’t again to their relationship then its “sweet”.
In the poem “To My Dear and Loving Husband”, the theme throughout the poem is based around marriage. The poem was written around the 16th century. In the poem, it shows a seamless combination of two people. They have so much love for each other. Bradstreet comes up with different ways to illustrate her love for her husband. She refers to her marriage as a business agreement, but as a “union” and a “commitment”.
Bradstreet says at the beginning of her poem by saying “if ever two were one, then surely we”, she reveals her deep love for her husband, but is unsure her marriage. Marriage is a union of two people vows to be partnered for life. She says “surely”, by convincing herself about her marriage to her husband. In marriage two people come together and then they will become one. They will both refer to everything as we. Bradstreet may be unsure about her union because she is very deeply in love with her husband.
Anne Bradstreet says in lines seven and eight, “My love is such that rivers cannot quench, nor ought but love from thee, give recompense”, she challenges her husband to compare her with any woman and see herself as the happiest of all women because she is his wife. The marriage has a substance of harmony, but the couple is far from being flawless. She references her love to a river that even a river can’t quench her thirst for her love. She uses phrases like “my love” and “love from thee”, to reference her love towards her husband. In these lines, she shows a deep level of affection for her dear husband.
Bradstreet finally goes to say, “Then while we live, in love no more, we may live ever”, this line is significant because she will “preserve” her and her husband’s love until one passes away, but for now, they will forever be in love with each other. This statement goes back to the very beginning of the poem by using the word “forever”. Their love is eternal, and even when they’ve passed away. Anne Bradstreet goes to say she will forever be with her husband, and just like the wedding vows, “till death does us apart”. She expresses how they will be together forever and always.
In Conclusion, both poems were based on marriage, but they are both totally different. Emily Dickinson’s poem showed us how marriage was like a contract because she gave herself to a man, and she grew to love him throughout all her worries of being worthless. Anne Bradstreet’s poem illustrates her love and affection for her husband. She does too describe her relationship as a business contract but it symbolized her and her husband as a “union” and a “commitment”. Both of the poems show how love is a risk, and it takes two to get through marriage.