Character Analysis in On Monsieur's Departure

Character Analysis Examples in On Monsieur's Departure:

On Monsieur's Departure 11

"what love e’er meant...."   (On Monsieur's Departure)

By ending on the idea of what “love e’er meant” rather than on how the love felt, the speaker focuses on the external implications of her feelings rather than her internal experience. If we read this claim through the historical lens of Elizabeth’s persona, this “meaning” reflects the speaker’s identity crisis. As a queen, she should not have ardent passions that disrupt her countenance. The fact that she experiences this love challenges her persona as the “Virgin Queen.” If the love-stricken version of herself dies and is forgotten, she will not have to think about what the emotion “means” to her fragile, constructed outward identity.

"melting snow..."   (On Monsieur's Departure)

One could read the “melting snow” as a metaphor for the kingly reputation that Elizabeth built. Her persona as a strong ruler depended on her maidenhood and the suppression of her feminine qualities. In this metaphor, she calls this aspect of herself weak and subject to melting. Part of her is still subject to the passions that melt mere mortals, the passions a queen should be impervious to.

"it..."   (On Monsieur's Departure)

In this line the referent of “it” is unclear. “It” could refer to his care, her pretended indifference to the relationship, her own care, or her actions (“what I have done”). In this way, she is either resenting his love, the actions she committed that made him express his love, or the circumstances that make her unable to receive that love. This line suggests tension between the speaker’s actions and thoughts about those actions and further emphasizes her divided nature.

"what I have done;..."   (On Monsieur's Departure)

The manner in which the speaker phrases “what I have done” prompts the reader to pose it as a question: what has she done? The lack of clarity and specificity suggests that the speaker cannot admit her own actions to herself.

"My care is like my shadow in the sun— ..."   (On Monsieur's Departure)

While the first stanza focused mostly on her two selves, the second stanza revolves around the personification of her “care.” This personification figures her emotions as an external party and further suggests the theme of the speaker’s divided self.

"myself another self..."   (On Monsieur's Departure)

Notice that in this line the speaker highlights her divided nature. There is a distinction between “myself” and “another self.” From the context of the rest of the poem, it seems that the “myself” is the grounded, frozen, Queenly identity that suppresses her romantic feelings. The “other” self seems to be the passionate romantic who is suffering over the loss of her lover. In this way, the speaker makes her romantic feelings, or care, an external entity, dangerous in its ability to “burn.”

"I..."   (On Monsieur's Departure)

The repetition of “I” throughout the first stanza shows the narrator’s obsession with her own thoughts and feelings. Rather than focusing on the love object, as most Petrarchan sonnets do, the speaker of this poem is concerned with her own feelings and the presentation of those feelings. In a way, the version of herself that experiences love becomes her object of obsession. Just as a Petrarchan speaker becomes obsessed with his love object, this speaker becomes obsessed with the external “I” that embodies her feelings. This rhetorical move once again shows that the speaker is divided: there is the rational self and the emotional self.

"mute, but inwardly do prate...."   (On Monsieur's Departure)

In this line the narrator once again reveals the theme of the poem. There is a disconnection between her external “mute” appearance and here “prattling” inner monologue. The narrator possesses two selves; this love has divided her into two people.

"I do..."   (On Monsieur's Departure)

Because of the syntax of these lines, “I do” could refer to either of the feelings mentioned in the previous line—“I do” love or “I do” hate. When she contradicts this action in the secondary clause of this line, she asserts that she cannot say she ever meant her love or her hate. This contradiction reinforces the presentation of this narrator as having two selves: she is both the person who loves and appears to hate. She therefore cannot feel either purely.

"I do, yet dare not say I ever meant; ..."   (On Monsieur's Departure)

This line follows the same structure of line two: the narrator begins to assert that she “does” something and then immediately contradicts this action by claiming that she could never say she meant it. Like line two, this line shows that the narrator is uncertain. “Dare not” highlights the threat in this uncertainty that “forced” touched on in the previous line: the narrator is not only uncertain but restrained from asserting certainty.

"and yet..."   (On Monsieur's Departure)

The narrator interrupts her active statement “I love” with an immediate contradiction: “and yet.” She cannot fully finish the thought or focus on the love, she must qualify it with the outward appearance of that feeling.This self-contradiction demonstrates the narrator’s uncertainty: she wants to claim that she “loves” purely, but must recognize this antagonistic component of that love.