Elizabeth Barrett Browning: argumentative discourse in "Sonnets from the Portuguese"
Elmore, Phyllis Pearson
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The poetry of Barrett Browning has yet to be made assessable to a wide audience. We have scarcely begun to number the poems, let alone offer any substantive and intellectual avenue into them. Barrett Browning's current literary marginality is informed by the pervasive imperative that the poetic voice is male and that women must consign their concerns to the pages of fiction. This study attempts to give credence to my notion that Barrett Browning's poetry deserves another hearing, particularly the Sonnets from the Portuguese. This sonnet cycle demands definitive treatment as argument because it is informed by Aristotelian and classical rhetorical strategy. These poems' very tough-mindedness lays to rest the critics' complaint that Barrett Browning practiced a confused and directionless rhetoric in them.