Modern Love George Meredith “Modern Love. ” The term brings to mind the changing dynamic of today’s society. This change has been present for decades and continues on to this day. In George Meredith’s poem he illiterates the negative impact of this change in a case that could encompass so many couples; the pain of a loveless marriage. Through his use of diction, and metaphor Meredith show the pain and heartache of two people being so close, yet so emotionally distant.
The first line of the poem begins the dark theme (By this he knew she wept with waking eyes), showing how the husband has seen his wife’s suffering; as well as painting a memorable picture through the use of alteration. The alteration serves another purpose as well. It’s smooth deliverance shows just how used to the situation the husband is to his wife’s tears. In line 2 we see just how helpless the husband is to help, his hand “quivers” out of nervousness, and in line 3 we see the extent of the wife’s sobs (Shook their common bed).
The dark selection of diction continues as metaphors are employed in lines 5&6 (And strangled mute, like little gaping snakes, dreadfully venomous to him). The truly telling word in these lines is “Strangled,” this extremely active verb implies force. This describes the situation of any willfully married wife during the time the poem was written. They had little choice in not only their husband, but also in the lifestyle handed to the by that husband, not to mention that divorce during this time period was early unheard of.
The only relief from the torture is presented in “Sleep’s Heavy Measure. ” The choice of the word “effigies” could possibly be the most significant of the entire work. Effigies are stone representations of a person, normally used only after death. The image of death is repeated in the 15th and 16th lines as well, (Upon their marriage-tomb, the sword between; Each wishing for the sword that severs all) these lines are used to show the reader several things. First, the emotional death of the parties involved, second the death of the marital bond, and third the longing for literal death.
Meredith’s choice of words and formulation of metaphors steer the reader away from the bright connotations of love and into the darker feelings that society in the Victorian era was happy to ignore. His work was very nearly satirical in nature, it challenged the social conventions of marriage at the time and began to show how both parties in a marriage were both influence by, and responsible for the health of a marriage. The true feeling and innate sadness in the poem comes from not only the lack of love and affection, but also the torture of conforming to the standers of the day.