Shakespeares Sonnets

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Arian Brethorst
11/20/12
Research Paper

Shakespeare and His Sonnets

When people evaluate Shakespeare, they more often than not recall his plays and writings; what people don't ordinarily ponder on is that he was also famous for the sonnets that he had written. He is renowned for his outstanding plays, which have left a great trace in the course of literature and culture, and also for the invention of the new form of the verse – a sonnet. No one truly knows if his sonnets were devoted to a real person or just about his personal feelings within. The majority of his sonnets were about love and the self discoveries of everyday life.

In Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 130”, Shakespeare describes a woman that he once loved. The sonnet clearly mocks the typical clichés, in which women’s eyes were compared to; the sun, stars, and other beautiful things. Although he is obviously trying to poke fun at the clichés, he refuses to use typical descriptions. The main idea of the sonnet is to express the feelings towards a woman describing her appearance in a poetic way. But here the reader can be misled by some kind of paradox: the thing is that the majority of poets tend to impute the supernatural beauty to their potential addressee if she or he is regarded as a beloved. But in this very work we do not observe anything unearthly described – quite a contrary, the lyrical hero gives a very down-to-earth description of his lover: he accepts that her beauty is not as vivid as the beauty of nature. Thus, from the first lines it is not even clear that the lyrical hero speaks about a beloved person and it is emphasized by such stylistic devices as a simple simile “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun” (1a), disguised similes “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” (1a), etc., a metaphor “I have seen roses damask’d, red and white, / But no such roses see I on her cheeks”. Moreover, the woman is called “mistress” by the lyrical hero, which can denote that this is just infatuation, but not love. However, at the end of the sonnet Shakespeare removes all the doubts about the authenticity and strength of his feelings calling the woman “my love” and giving the final idea that no matter there is something better than his lover, no matter that he can understand and see these differences, his love is true and his woman is the best. This technique sets Shakespeare’s lover aside from the other women that are always described in clichés. But not using the typical means of description, he shows how the woman is a unique lady. For instance, in the first stanza, Shakespeare first describes the woman using beautiful imagery making her look like a goddess. Then he remarks that her skin is a dull brown color. These images present two different perceptions of the woman: one ugly and one beautiful. Shakespeare makes it clear that the woman does not measure up to the normal standards of beauty, but to him her “dirty” side is attractive, which makes him love her. Shakespeare continues to insult the woman in the second stanza. He remarks how her cheeks contain no deep rose color and how her breath reeks like bad perfume. Again, this is not the usual approach to the composition, instead of berating the woman with compliments, Shakespeare continues to degrade her. Here the readers are persuaded that this is definitely not a love sonnet. The third stanza seems to compliment the woman. Shakespeare compares her to an angel that walks earth. He also claims her his equal. He claims that he loves to hear her voice, yet he says “music hath a far more pleasing sound.” He plays with the readers mind by complimenting and insulting the woman at the same time. Now the reader is not sure what to think at all. In the last lines of the sonnet, the ending couplet, Shakespeare makes it clear that it is indeed a love sonnet. He states that his love is “as rare/ As any She...
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