Shakespeare's My Mistress' Eyes Are Nothing Like the Sun
Many authors compose sonnets about women whom they loved. Most of
these authors embellish their women's physical characteristics by
comparing them to natural wonders that we, as humans, find beautiful.
Shakespeare's "My Mistress' Eyes Are Nothing Like the Sun" contradicts
this idea, by stating that his mistress lacks most of the qualities
other men wrongly praise their women for possessing. Shakespeare
presents to one that true love recognizes imperfections and feels
devotion regardless of flaws, while satirically expressing his
personal thoughts on Petrarchan sonnets. Through the use of
comparisons, the English sonnet and an anti-Petrarchan approach, he
creatively gets his point across.
"My Mistress' Eyes Are Nothing Like the Sun" uses comparisons to
express Shakespeare's idea of love as opposed to lust. A lustful man
would focus on a woman's pleasing physical characteristics, such as
white breasts, beautiful hair, red lips, and fragrant breath; however,
Shakespeare's mistress possesses none of these great characteristics.
Shakespeare, instead, uses metaphors to express her physical
shortcomings. "Coral is far more red than her lips' red" (line 2)
describes his mistress' faded lips. "If hairs be wires, black wires
grow on her head" (line 4) shows the coarse, unkempt and dark color of
her hair. "And in some perfumes is there more delight than in the
breath that from my mistress reeks." (Lines 7-8) expresses his
mistress' dire need for a breath mint. These comparisons give one a
vivid description of his mistress' lacking beauty, and sets one up for
the couplet at the end of the sonnet. Through the couplet "And yet, by
heaven, I think my love as rare as any she, belied with false
compare." (Lines 13-14), Shakespeare explains that he loves his
mistress, regardless of her looks, over any other woman described with
false embellishment. This expression shows how Shakespeare believes
love should see flaws but be able to overlook them.
Shakespeare uses the form of an English sonnet, more commonly known as
the Shakespearean sonnet, to communicate his thoughts. A Shakespearean
sonnet "is organized into three quatrains and a couplet, which
typically rhyme abab cdcd efef gg" (Meyer, p.917). Additionally,
within these sonnet styles "the most pronounced break or turn comes
with the concluding couplet" (Meyer, p.917). The consistency of rhyme
scheme helps underscore Shakespeare's thoughts by emphasizing certain
words. Looking at the first two lines of each quatrain and comparing
the rhyme with the second two lines of the quatrain, one may see some
interesting pairing of...