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“Sonnet 130″ and “Sonnet 18″
“Sonnet 130 “My Mistress’ Eyes are Nothing like the Sun” and “Sonnet 18: Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day?” by William Shakespeare are fascinating poems, which depict the feeling of love for a woman and nature. The author shows that one may experience love and hate at the same time, but the beauty of nature is eternal. The plot of each poem immerses a reader into the world of reality and imagination based on the revelations of sincerity and mockery. This essay demonstrates that, in “Sonnet 130,” the narrator loves his mistress in spite of her ordinary appearance, which also causes the feeling of disgust, whereas in “Sonnet 18,” the author praises his beloved while comparing her beauty to that of nature.
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In the poem “Sonnet 130: My Mistress’ Eyes are Nothing like the Sun,” Shakespeare shows that the speaker depends on the appearance of his mistress. The title reveals that a man does not see anything special when he speaks about the woman’s eyes, which follow him everywhere. Comprehending each line, the reader may think that the narrator does not like the appearance of his mistress as he illustrates her features in a negative way. On the other hand, her female traits are special to him for indeed he tries to praise her. It is an interesting paradox, which refers to the irony of life. The point is that “The ordinary beauty and humanity of his lover are what is significant to Shakespeare in this sonnet, and he also applies particular love poetry metaphors against themselves” (Steele 133). Moreover, from the very beginning, the narrator examines her outer appearance despite the fact that he does not demonstrate any obvious expressions of love. It seems that everything he says and describes is doubtful. The lines “My mistress’s eyes are nothing like the sun/ coral is far redder, than her lips red” emphasize that the woman does not possess any great beauty, and nothing about her is perfect (Sonnet 130 1-2). It is evident that her lack of natural beauty separates the lovers, but the speaker still continues musing on her as an object of adoration.
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Realizing that there is no perfection, the narrator makes considerable efforts to learn the soul of his mistress and her female nature. The reader notices that the speaker rejects her at times, but he cannot imagine his miserable life without her breath. He indicates, “If snow is white, why then her breasts are dun: / if hairs are wires, black wires grow on her head” (Sonnet 130 3-4). In fact, these words are rather controversial and even confusing. Moreover, white and black symbolize the protagonist’s unclear feelings, which do not leave him in peace. They also show that the man intends to define his lover’s nature, which may be empty inside. All these images help the reader envision one complete image of the mistress, who reigns over the speaker’s mind. It is obvious that he suffers from his feelings while attempting to stop loving the woman and continues despising her even if she attracts him more and more. Additionally, the word “mistress” has a double meaning, and it is difficult to understand its precise sense. Of course, it is partially related to irony as the narrator gradually counts and recollects all her faults, which are important for him. Eventually, the mistress is the most vital symbol of the storyline as the speaker pays too much attention to the woman.
Having an irresistible desire to be next to his beloved, the protagonist reveals a kind of a list, which may characterize the mistress and his attitude towards her. The lines “I have seen roses damasked, red and white,/ But no such roses see I in her cheeks,/ and in some perfumes is there more delight,/ than in the breath that from my mistress reeks” show that he portrays her with feelings of disgust (Sonnet 130 5-8).
In fact, the way the speaker persuades himself that the woman is not beautiful, and therefore, she does not deserve his love is nothing short of humiliating. However, the reader may assume that such a passionate expression of inner feelings and emotions just proves the man’s boundless infatuation for his beloved. Moreover, his uncontrollable state depicts his weaknesses and dependence on the mistress. Even though he realizes that she is far from his ideal of beauty, her ordinary appearance, which is grounded on simplicity, attracts him intensively. He loves her despite numerous inner sufferings because he is unable to cope with destructive thoughts and ideas, which do not allow him to enjoy his being. Undoubtedly, “the poem is intended as an act of persuasion, the speaker’s aim being to get his audience to recognize the absurdity” (Dowling 8). Eventually, the more negativism the man expresses through various offenses, the more feelings of love he gains.
What is more, his personal offense, which is unknown to the reader, directs him to obey the love for a mistress. Revealing his unlimited dissatisfaction, he says, “I love to hear her speak, yet well I know, / that music hath a far more pleasing sound: / I grant I never saw a goddess go, / my mistress when she walks treads on the ground” (Sonnet 130 9-12). These words explain that he has neither moral nor physical abilities to oppose love, which has strongly captivated his soul and heart. The man knows that it is impossible to hide his true feelings of love, and it bothers him like torture. Therefore, he is often satirical while laughing at the woman’s appearance, though he will never get rid of this obsession. It lives deep in his heart since the woman is a substantial part of his life. Perhaps, it is the so-called male approach to stay with a woman while insulting her as she may be indifferent to him.
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In the poem “Sonnet 18: Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day” in contrast to the previous poem Shakespeare glorifies his beloved while comparing her with the beauty of nature. In this case, the speaker adores his woman so much that he desires to be with her forever. He is also focused on her appearance, but he respects the woman, and that is why he supposes that she has much in common with nature. The lines “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day/ Though art more lovely and more temperate” reveal that the speaker draws a parallel between nature and a human being (Sonnet 18 1-2). The narrator contacts his beloved asking her whether she is against him praising both nature and its beauty. They interact with one another through close connections and the power they have. The point is that summer day may disappear anytime, and his lover is close to him. She is not as short-lived as the warmth of the sun; she is constant. Additionally, the speaker of this poem is different from the first one due to his tenderness.
The narrator loves nature, but its transience disappoints him as he cannot enjoy its beauty for a long period. He mentions, “Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,/ And summer’s lease hath all too short a date” (Sonnet 18 3-4). In contrast to the narrator of “My Mistress’ Eyes is Nothing like the Sun”, this speaker personifies nature while using the word “darling”. Moreover, the portrayal of the sun contributes to the creation of an illusion that one may touch it from the ground. There is also a metaphor in the lines “Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines, / And often is his gold complexion dimmed; / And every fair from fair sometime declines, / By chance or nature’s changing course, untrimmed” (Sonnet 18 5-8).
They have a metaphorical meaning because the author compares the sun to a human by giving it human features. It is an incredible example of personification. Then, another metaphor expresses the speaker’s inner fears that summer may fade like a flower and like the beauty of his beloved. In this case, the reader associates summer with youth. “The eye of heaven” is a symbol of the sun, which brings joy and life to people. Almost at the end of the poem, the man mentions death, which looks like a person, but it will never take away either his beloved or nature due to the existence of poetry, which symbolizes life on the Earth. Additionally, rhymes unite poems as they reinforce the hidden implication of each of them. The structure of the poems in full of rhymes that create a particular tone.
In conclusion, “Sonnet 130: My Mistress’ Eyes are Nothing like the Sun” and “Sonnet 18: Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day?” by William Shakespeare are literary masterpieces, which impress one’s imagination with the portrayal of beauty. The illustration of love for woman and nature are quite different in the poems due to the speakers’ way of expressing his true feelings. The reader understands that beauty is more than just an outer embellishment as it must reflect something natural instead of artificial. Undoubtedly, both narrators love their women despite the fact that one of them suffers from his personal perception of love.
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