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An Explination Of Shakespeare's Sonnet 130

649 words - 3 pages

“If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun” is a quote from Shakespeare’s sonnet 130 that compare’s Shakespeare’s mistress skin color to something that is unattractive for the time period of the sixteenth century. Shakespeare’s sonnet 130 ,“My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun,” mocks the traditional Petrarchan sonnet. It is questionable whether it mocks a certain Petrarchan sonnet or rather the whole idealized love object aspect of the Petrarchan tradition. Instead of being love sick and idolizing his lady, Shakespeare demeans his lady by comparing her to unattractive subjects by using similes and metaphors. While the quatrain mocks his lady, the couplet unveils a whole different side of his “love story.” Shakespeare’s sonnet explores the idea that his love is incomparable and rare even though his lady is not the most desirable through mocking the idealized love object of the Petrarchan sonnet.
In the quatrain, Shakespeare uses many comparisons to portray his undesirable lady. Shakespeare says, “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun” and “Coral is far more red than her lips’ red” to describe his woman (1-2). Those aspects are not ones that anybody at the time would find flattering. He uses many more similes and metaphors throughout the quatrain to describe all of the unattractive qualities of his mistress. The common female at the time was seen as beautiful if she had pale skin, rosy cheeks, and soft, flowing hair. However, the woman described in Shakespeare’s sonnet has “dun” colored skin, non-rosy cheeks, and wiry hair. Most Petrarchan sonnets portray their woman as “walking on water” while Shakespeare says his “treads on the ground” (11). He uses many more similes and metaphors throughout the quatrain to describe all of the unattractive qualities of his mistress. The contrast between this sonnet and those of the Petrarchan tradition is immense, but...

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