Study Guide

Break, Break, Break Sadness

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In "Break, Break, Break," the speaker seems to worry about how much sadness is too much – when is he allowed to get over his grief and enjoy the sights and sounds by the sea again?  Is it disrespectful to the memory of his friend to enjoy things?  Does he need to be melancholy all the time?  At what point does his sorrow just turn into empty, meaningless repetition?

Questions About Sadness

  1. Why is the speaker so sad?  Is it just the absence of his friend, or does there seem to be something else?  How would you describe it?  What lines would you use to back up your answer?
  2. Does watching the sea seem to relieve the speaker's sadness or add to it?  Why? 
  3. What about the other people around him – the "fisherman's boy" and the "sailor lad"?  Do they help to relieve his sadness?

Chew on This

The speaker's grief for the death of his friend makes him see his sense of loss in his physical surroundings.

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