Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Isaac's Analysis of Sonnet 130

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     Sonnet 130 represents a reversal of traditional Petrarchan ideals. In a traditional Petrarchan sonnet, the beauty and wonder of the love object would be pronounced. This often occurred in a blazon, a detailed description of the love object's beauty. In Shakespeare's sonnet 130, however, that tradition is turned on its head as the speaker lists the distinct lack of beauty that the love object possesses. That the Petrarchan mode is undercut can be found not only in the content but also in the form. Within the first two lines, iambic pentameter is broken in the word "Coral," with a stressed beat at the beginning of the line. It continues to vary from the standard form, such as the line: "I have seen roses damasked."
     This sonnet compares well to Sonnet 69. In Sonnet 69, the speaker explores the ideas of outer and inner beauty. Although the youth, or the love object, "wants nothing" physically, the speaker says that people can see further than just the outward appearance. They can see the "common" way that he acts. While the speaker finds the object of Sonnet 130 to be lacking physical conventions of beauty, but loves it anyway, the speaker of Sonnet 69 praises the beauty of the love object, while questioning its inner beauty. Both find a discontinuity in physical attractiveness and emotional attractiveness.
     In form, Sonnet 130 is like many others. While I mentioned how its form rejects Petrarchan modes sometimes, it still follows the sonnet pattern fairly well. The volta is found in the final couplet. This is like Sonnet 73. Both sonnets build an argument in the first three quatrains, and then change perspective in the final couplet. This happens in Sonnet 130 as the speaker professes his love and admiration despite the lack of overly physical attractiveness. In Sonnet 73, this happens as the speaker proposes a solution to the idea of death and decay (to love what you can while you can). Both build arguments and then turn in the last two lines.

1 comment:

  1. I loved your comparison to sonnet 69. I went back and reread it and they both have the same central message - and yet such different tones in their deliverence. I'd be interested to see, in your more extensive analysis, insights into this theme of "discontinuity in physical attractiveness and emotional attractiveness" in regards to Shakepeare contrasting attitudes.