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An analysis of William Shakespeare’s Sonnet (130)

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My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;Coral is far more red, than her lips red:If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.I have seen roses damasked, red and white,But no such roses see I in her cheeks;And in some perfumes is there more delightThan in the breath that from my mistress reeks.I love to hear her speak, yet well I knowThat music hath a far more pleasing sound:I grant I never saw a goddess go, My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:And yet by heaven, I think my love as rare,As any she belied with false compare.

Sonnet cxxx that was written by Shakespeare is an unconventional love poem about his mistress. It was very traditional in Elizabethan poetry to write about the beautiful aspects of a woman like her eyes, lips, scent, etc.), but as you can see Shakespeare took on a more literal interpretation of his mistress in his sonnet “Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks”(8). Even though his focal point revolves around her imperfections he also states that his love is rare and that nonetheless he honestly and indefinitely loves his mistress even though she has revolting flaws “And yet by heaven, I think my love as rare” (13). Shakespeare’s sonnet continually relates to a modernized love relationship of how you should love someone even though they have their specific faults.

Shakespeare starts his first quatrain of his sonnet by presenting “my misstress’ eyes are nothing like the sun; / coral is far more red, than her lips red :”( 1-2). As Shakespeare communicates in his first two lines he is relating his mistress to beautiful objects like the sun and gorgeous coral, but he takes these observations and flips them on their head by saying that she is the exact opposite of these things. Later on he notes “if snow be white, why then her breasts are dun; if hairs be wires, then black wires grow on her head.” (3-4).

In this passage of the sonnet he is stating she physically does not appear like normal woman it says her hair is black and her skin is a darker pigmentation as it contrasts with the snow white color he uses in his sonnet and it could be likely that she could have been of African-American decent. Shakespeare implies that it was common for woman to have beautiful blonde hair like the golden color of wires as he refers “if hairs be wires”,but he states that her hair is a dark black color which fits his description of a “dark mistress”. He continues “I have seen roses damasked, red and white, /But no such roses see I in her cheeks; / And in some perfumes is there more delight / Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks. /I love to hear her speak, yet well I know / That music hath a far more pleasing sound: / I grant I never saw a goddess go, / My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:” (5-12).

As just previously stated Shakespeare continiously refers back to his mistress’ ugly duckling features. He states that her face is not bright and beautiful, she smells just retchid, her voice isnt appealing to the ear and that she doesnt walk gracefully at all she practically stomps her feet. All of this literation on how unattractive her being is makes the reader wonder why does he love her? “And yet by heaven, I think my love as rare, /As any she belied with false compare” (13-14). The last two lines in his cuplet proceed to conclude that he loves her even though she has such flaws as stated previously about her breath, hair, voice, etc.).

The whole sonnet has this odd sense of irony and is actually quite oxymorionic. Shakespeare bluntly states how unattractive she is and would leave the reader to believe he has no desire whatsoever to even be within ten feet of this woman, but then the story rapidly changes so fast that it gives the readers mind whiplash because he says hes in love with the girl who would have concluded that? He seems to reitterate the fact that her apperance isn’t amazingly beautiful because he is saying it really doesn’t matter how beautiful she is on the outside, but what does matter is the characteristics on the inside and that he loves her for all of her flaws.

Depending on the reader this sonnet could be percieved as Shakespeare complimenting is mistress. Why you wonder? Shakespeare obviously shows in this sonnet he isnt looking for some “goddess” instead he is looking for someone he truly loves. Yet even though there are other ladies more beautiful than her who most likely have a better scent and walk pleasently he would not want to be with any other woman than his mistress. Secondly if you read it in more of a literal context it could also be said that Shakespeare is complimenting his mistress rather than bluntly just stating shes revolvting.

Reffering back to the first two lines William goes to state that his “mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun and coral is far more red than her lips red”. If you were to take this sonnet and look at it more literally it shows that he is complimenting his mistress because honestly what woman would want eyes like the sun or lips brighter red than coral? Firstly it would blind you to look at her because her eyes are so bright and secondly she would look like a modernized clown because her lips would be so red she would be a laughing stock. Shakespeare shows that his love is like no other , that she is uniquely designed and she is different.

He also implies by this that majority of woman in his time all had this image they inspired to be like, but that his mistress is nothing like them. This implication makes me suspect that the world wasn’t as different as we all think it was back then. Shakespeare’s works are quite amazing in my eyes, but what strikes me as outstanding that such a sonnet like this one published all the way back in 1609 still has meaning in society today nearly four-hundred years later. Shakespeare visualizes a more realistic view on love that his audience can relate too instead of writing about how magnificent she is like a handful of his other sonnets do.

He shows love goes beyond a physical beauty and reassures humanity that you don’t need to be worried about your appearance because beauty is in the eye of the beholder and you can find love even if you arent as radiant as the sun or . I also find that Shakespeare is telling his readers that in order to find true love that you should never change yourself. That you should stay true to yourself and whoever your partner may be that they will truely love you and accept you for you and your beautiful mistakes and flaws.

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