Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Maddie's Analysis of Sonnet 130

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In Sonnet 130, Shakespeare puts forth and mocks various aspects of common ways to describe a woman's beauty. He names the standard, then bluntly states that his mistress does not resemble this ideal in the least. In the last couplet, however, he claims that despite her physical flaws, their love is as true and rare as any.
  • Shakespeare follows the traditional sonnet pattern of going over his love's body piece by piece, but instead of complimenting her, he insults her.
  • The final couplet can be taken as either defensive or humorous. Some say that Shakespeare was trying to dismantle the common beauty ideals of the day, and his purpose in describing his love's ugliness was to implicitly scold the reader for being shallow enough to care. Most love poetry is based on beauty and sex, instead of any characteristics or personality traits of the lady herself. However, since Shakespeare himself follows this trend, many people simply write off the whole sonnet as humorous, and the couplet soothes the feelings of the wounded one.
  • Often sonnets will have a turn in the tone towards the end of the poem. The turn of Sonnet 130 comes unusually late - in the last couplet - while most come in the final quatrain, as is the case in Sonnet 18 and Sonnet 26.
  • Sonnet 54 is an example of Shakespeare dwelling on the beauty of his love. In both 54 and 130, however, he does take the time to note that outer beauty is not everything. In Sonnet 130 he insists that though his mistress is ugly, she is his true love, while in Sonnet 54, he argues that only those with inner beauty as well as outer beauty are "true roses".

1 comment:

  1. I like how you focus on the satirical, subversive wit in the sonnet, I think it adds a lot to a reader's understanding of the poem.