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Sonnet 130 - review.

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Introduction

Sonnet 130 "My mistress' eyes..." Sonnet 130 "My mistress' eyes..." by William Shakespeare is his rather lacklustre tribute to his mistress. The sonnet is clearly a parody of the conventional and traditional love sonnet that describes Shakespeare's experience of love and admiration for someone who has imperfections. Thus the poem being truly personal, it contains a universal truth: we can all still be admired even though we have imperfections. Throughout the poem, Shakespeare compares his mistress to a number of other beauties - and never in the lovers favour. In the first quatrain, Shakespeare gives the reader an account of his mistress' appearance: 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. The opening of the poem is unconventional as the alliteration on the <m> of 'My' and 'mistress' gives an immediate and clear sense of possession. In the second line the reader is given an indication that Shakespeare's mistress is not English: coral is an exotic substance and suggests far away places. ...read more.

Middle

Shakespeare gives the image of the damask'd rose which further suggests the idea of his mistress being from a foreign land as the damask rose originates in Damascus. The image conveys strong, bright colour but when the image is emphasised in the following line it is clear that Shakespeare is suggesting that there is no such bright, welcoming colour in her face, instead she bears dark coloured skin. The image is continued into the following two lines of the quatrain where Shakespeare suggests that unlike the damask rose that has a distinct sweet and pleasant smell, his mistress' breath has a strong foul smelling odour. However the breath of his mistress is used as a metaphor for her words: she betrays people with her speech and flatters others and therefore she is unfaithful to Shakespeare. Her breath 'reeks' because Shakespeare does not wish to hear his mistress' lies. The idea of betrayal is continued into the final quatrain: 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: The quatrain begins with what appears to be a positive compliment: he 'loves to hear her speak'. ...read more.

Conclusion

In the couplet Shakespeare shows his full intent, which is to insist that love does not need conceits in order to be real; and women do not need to look like flowers or the sun in order to be beautiful. And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare As any she belied with false compare. Shakespeare despite everything swears by 'heaven' that he loves this woman, he thinks his love as 'rare' and valuable 'As any she belied with false compare', that is, any love in which false comparisons were invoked to describe the loved one's beauty. However Shakespeare uses the pronoun 'she' which, if it refers to his mistress then it tells the reader that she deceives and flatters others, she therefore does not return the feeling of love for Shakespeare. In Sonnet 130, Shakespeare describes the woman that he loves in extremely unflattering terms but claims that he truly loves her, which lends credibility to his claim because even though he does not find her attractive, he still declares his love for her. The poem therefore contains great optimism for the reader as he suggests that although we have flaws we can still be loved which I feel provides the reader with a sense of happiness and calm. ...read more.

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