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29 April 2014
An Unconventional Love- Sonnet 130
If one were talking about a beloved, one would go out of one's way to praise her and point out all of the ways that she is the best. However, in William Shakespeare'sSonnet 130, Shakespeare spends the poem comparing his mistress's appearance to other things, and tells the reader how she doesn't measure up to the comparisons. While using the standard Shakespearean iambic pentameter with a rhyme scheme of AB-AB/CD-CD/EF-EF/GG, he goes through a laundry list, giving us details about the flaws of her body, her smell, and even the sound of her voice. Yet at the end of the poem, he changes his tune and tells the reader about his real and complete love for her. Shakespeare's Sonnet 130 takes a turn from the cliché love poems of his time by mocking the common comparisons and telling the truth about his lover's appearance. The first quatrain briefly describes the woman's physical appearance by using comparisons to nature. To begin the poem, Shakespeare uses a simile by saying, "My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun" (1). One may mistake this line as a criticism, but he is merely saying that her eyes are nothing like the sun because they are better than it. The speaker also says, "If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun" (3). By avoiding a direct simile, Shakespeare gives the reader a strong mental image of sparkling white snow and lays it next to the equally vivid image of dun (grayish-brown) breasts. "Dun" is often used to describe the color of an animal and is not the kind of thing a woman would like her breasts to be compared to. Throughout the second quatrain, the speaker continues to criticize his mistress' appearance and breath. Shakespeare says, "I have seen roses damasked red and white,/ but no such roses see I in her cheeks" (5-6). White, red, and damasked were the only three colors during the poem's time...
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