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“Men woo women with wit and charm, women respond with doubt and fatalism.” Discuss.

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"Men woo women with wit and charm, women respond with doubt and fatalism." Discuss. The first sonnets were written by Francesco Petrarca, who traditionally wrote about admiration for an unattainable woman. These poems were simple and described the physical appearance of a woman usually using similes. There were very few female poets around at this time to respond to this kind of poetry and it was not until the eighteen hundreds was there a real voice from female sonneteers. The women responding to Shakespearean poems were better educated and saw the world differently from the male poets before them. Therefore, it is difficult to say what the women were responding to, because they are not directly responding to these men. Shakespeare's poems were very artificial and he used the old ideas and modified their usage in the poem to show off. His sonnets were all about the woman's physical appearance. However, Edna St. Vincent Millay was born in 1892, died in 1950 she was an American, and born in Maine, her poetry was different because in the early 1900's there was a rejection of traditional poetry. She was renowned for the lack of structure in her poems, and had a wider experience of life, as she was a bohemian. ...read more.


The use of the "sun" is frequently used such as in " shall I compare thee...?" as a symbol of brilliance however in this sonnet it is used to show her eyes as very plain. The reader is made aware only in the third quatrain that he really does have feelings for her since he loves " to hear here speak." Shakespeare reinforces her plainness by rhyming "sound" and " ground" making them significant words. Since it is in the third quatrain that, we realise that he loves here although she isn't physically attractive. The final rhyming couplet is always the most powerful, ending thought and therefore may compensate for the unpleasant comments before it. These two lines show how much he feels for her. This is charming describing his love to be like no other and explaining how unique their love although she is not a typical goddess type woman. Millay was an experienced writer who wrote from the heart, and about what life had thrown at her, therefore there is a lot of doubt and fatalism in her words. Her poem "What lips my lips have kissed" is set out in the form of a Petrachan sonnet. Consequently, the poem is more an explanation or description of one thought rather than a series of events or discussing a feeling. ...read more.


She was a lot younger and more na�ve when she wrote her poetry and brought up in a more sheltered environment, therefore her poems such as "How do I love thee?" is about pure love. She compares her need for God is the same level in which she needs him. She has a very firm belief in her love; it is " ideal." Unlike Millay, she tells of her love being infinite, as she will love better after death. However, these may be viewed as fatalism since she was almost born with this love as if it was God's choice, but as she loves with a "childhood's faith" she has very little doubt. In conclusion is more common for men to woo women with wit and charm however, the way a woman responds depends on her personality. It is shown through the completely different sonnets from the female poets that a woman's response to love can be very varied. Men woo with wit and charm because it is the only way they really know how to, although they try to stray from the rules set by Petrachan they do not get very far. Since Shakespeare lived in a society much more similar to that in which Petrarca lived, however the women lived much later on and therefore their responses were influenced by the society they mixed in. ...read more.

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