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The poem “A Musical Instrument” written by Elizabeth Barrett Browning is being discussed in the paper. The poem is viewed as it contains autobiographical elements. The poet indirectly describes how she fights against the conventional society of Victorian period. She reveals how she disturbed the river of rules with her pen. The poem represents the mythical story of god Pan and the syrinx. She compares herself with the Pan who created music out of reed. She struggled against societal themes just like Pan tore out reeds from the river. She made the best art like Pan made beautiful music from with the instrument. Like Pan modified reed into a musical instrument she reshape the modern thinking and attitudes. She fought for literary freedom in her poetic battle against a society that denied women all freedoms. Victorian society never accepted any art form from women rather they only considered for being a mother. Sufferings of Victorian women can be seen in Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles. Art was hidden from women by the Victorian society like Syrinx was hidden from Pan by the water nymphs.
The poem portrays the story that Pan once tried to chase the nymph Syrinx. She ran away from him and went near a river then she asked the water nymphs to save her. They turned her into a reed so as to hide her in the river. Pan never found her. So, in a rage, he jumped into the water and walked briskly, thus disturbing the calmness of the river. By the end, he made a musical instrument out of the reed, and its music was haunting and mind-blowing. . Just as Pan did, she worked hard to polish her art to bring the best poetry to the literary world .The poem describes the power and control over women in the society but we are giving a new notion that it contains autobiographical elements.