An Explication Of "My Mistress' Eyes"

997 words - 4 pages

William Shakespeare was born in 1564 and died in 1616. He was an English poet, dramatist, and actor. He is thought of as the greatest dramatist of all time. "During [his] lifetime, his plays were mentioned and imitated as often as those of any of his contemporaries" (Neilson & Thorndike). Shakespeare's sonnets were published in 1609, and he wrote a total of 154 sonnets. All of his sonnets have some relation to people he knew. The identities of these people are still open for debate. His sonnets express strong feeling and follow a very artistic form. In Shakespeare's 130th sonnet, "My mistress' eyes," (rpt. in Thomas R. Arp and Greg Johnson, Perrine's Literature: Structure, Sound, and Sense, 8th ed. [Fort Worth: Harcourt, 2002] 885), he describes a mistress that is far less than perfect, but he loves her regardless. In this sonnet, he definitely uses strong expressions in a sarcastic way."My mistress' eyes", sonnet 130, has fourteen lines. The rhyme scheme of this sonnet is ababcdcdefefgg. The last two lines are the rhyming couplet. Although this sonnet follows the normal pattern of a sonnet, this one is rather different in content. According to the lit finder in The Alabama Virtual Library, most Renaissance sonneteers, such as Edmund Spenser and Philip Sidney, wrote about blonde ladies with milky white complexions. However, Shakespeare's describes a different view about love in his "My mistress' eyes." In this sonnet, he portrays love and beauty as something that is not just skin deep, but something that comes from the heart.In line one of the sonnet, Shakespeare claims that his "mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun" (1). This opening statement sets the mood of the poem, which is a criticizing one. Next, Shakespeare describes his mistress' lips. He does this by portraying her lips not being as pretty as most poets would describe their mistress'. In line three, the speaker claims that if snow is white then her breasts are not. In the next line, Shakespeare paints a picture in the reader's mind of a woman with coarse, wiry black hair. Lines five and six simply state that roses come in many different colors, but none of these colors appear in his mistress' cheeks. The next two lines render that the scent of his mistress is not appealing whatsoever, and "in some perfumes is there more delight" (7). Lines nine and ten convey to the reader that his mistress' voice is pleasing to the ear, but not as pleasing as music. In the next two lines, Shakespeare describes his mistress' walk. For example, instead of her walking gracefully, he implies that she is rather inelegant. In lines thirteen and fourteen Shakespeare states as heaven as my witness, he loves this woman because she is rare. For example, even though she is not like a nightingale or a fair complexioned lady like most poets would use to describe their mistresses, he still loves his mistress because of her inner beauty.According to Joanne Woolway, Shakespeare turns traditional poetic...

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