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Shakespearean Sonnet 130 Explication

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Lauren Sprouse Weibly C-Block, AP Eng. IV November 11, 2002 Shakespearean Sonnet 130 Explication Shakespeare's one hundred and thirtieth sonnet - "My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun" is one of the most insightful and powerful poems of all time. Reminding the reader that love is not found in the red of lips or the roses of the cheeks, this sonnet almost pokes fun at the standard "ideal woman". Shakespeare's use of structure, unique language, rhythm and rhyme and numerous other effects all contributed towards developing the meaning, form and content of the poem. In "My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun" Shakespeare forms an argument against the then popular conventions to flatter one's lover with praise of her beauty, as well as make comments about the way that love between two people can be expressed and interpreted. He compares an ideal woman to a woman who is by no means physically perfect to emphasize that love is deeper and more important than these superficial comparisons. While his mistress may not have had silky hair or sweet breath, he is still completely captivated by her and considers his love to be as rare as any other: "And yet by heaven I think my love as rare...". ...read more.


There are a variety of language techniques employed by Shakespeare to emphasize his argument. The most obvious of these is his choice of words. For example, the use of 'roses' in the contrast between roses and his mistress' cheeks: "I have seen roses damask'd, red and white, but no such roses see I in her cheeks." Rose petals are soft, almost silky to the touch, pleasant to look at and have perfect shades of color. Just from the use of this one word, he shows that his mistress' cheeks are not soft, nor do they own the color of roses - just like all of her other features, they are plain and not worth noting. By using the example of a "goddess" in contrast to his mistress, Shakespeare again heightens the effect of the poem. When we think of a goddess, we think of superhuman perfection and beauty. The way that Shakespeare reluctantly brings this up "I grant I never..." also suggests that like his mistress, there may be more to goddesses than physical beauty. ...read more.


it makes the author seem as though he is hypnotized by love. The long length of sentences compliments the complex ideas that are being expressed and allows one idea to be developed more completely in one sentence. The use of punctuation is also something of note. Only two full stops are used - once to separate the octet and the sestet and again at the end of the poem. The colon just prior to the volta shows it's relation to the rest of the poem, and its indentation highlights its importance. The use of semicolons at the end of the lines instead of full stops adds to the flow. A last interesting point is that in this sonnet (unlike many others), Shakespeare does not speak to his mistress directly - instead, it is almost as if he were talking to himself or to friends. "My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun" is an excellent example of the use of poetic structure, language and format to develop meaning within a poem. Shakespeare managed to develop both of these sides of poetry and build meaningful arguments around the topic of love. ...read more.

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