An Analysis of Sonnet 130
Iambic Pentameter: The poem uses an iambic pentameter, a rhythmic scheme used in sonnets. The rhyme scheme is ABABCDCDEFEF GG, and is split into three quatrains and a rhyming couplet. It contains 10 syllables per line, with syllables alternating between unstressed and stressed when spoken aloud. This gives the sonnet the effect of sounding like a regular love poem, but upon closer examination of the words used we can tell that the poem and its intentions are completely different. The Final Couplet: In Sonnet 130, the persona describes the woman with unflattering terms such as “black wires grow on her head” and “in the breath from that my mistress reeks”. However, even though he points out her numerous flaws he still declares his love for her, suggesting that he embraces all her traits and characteristics and loves her nonetheless. This is further exemplified in the final couplet of the poem, “And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare; as any she belied with false compare.” This sudden contrast, despite being contradictory to the previous lines of the poem, is significant in showing that regardless of her flaws he is still wholly in love with her. Throughout the poem, the persona compares his mistress to that of an imaginary, perfect woman. However, in the last lines we see that the persona chooses the real woman with all her imperfections over the “goddess” he has never seen.
Alternating rhymes: The rhyme scheme is ABABCDCDEFEF GG. “Sun” rhymes with “dun”, “red” and “head”, and so on, before ending with “rare” and “compare”. This enhances the image of a seemingly dull woman that the persona describes – the woman in question is said to have breasts which are dun, suggesting that she is sexually unattractive. Her lips are contrasted with that of coral, “Coral far more red than her lips’ red”. Red is the colour of sensuality, and thus the persona is stating that she is not a sensual woman. The effect that this rhyming...
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