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In “Sonnet 130,” William Shakespeare speaks about rare love. A love that no other feels. One does not see this as the case, when reading the first twelve lines of this poem. The persona describes all the faults of his beloved, starting at her eyes, and ending at her breath. He uses comparisons like snow, coral, and roses to describe what his beloved lacks. Later on in the poem, one realizes that the flaws and imperfections of his mistress is not at all important to the narrator. Despite the fact that she is not what society would call a “perfect woman,” the narrator still loves his rare mistress because he perceives her as a human being. Shakespeare is offereing more in this poem than merely playing upon the traditional use of a blason, which looks to describe the parts of a woman’s body in grand terms. The narrator denies all the exaggerated comparisons, like the ones that are usually expected in a sonnet, like eyes to sun, lips to coral, hair to black wire, cheeks to roses, breath to perfume, voice to music and finally woman to a goddess who does not touch the earth. He is not falsely comparing her to inanimate objects: women are not like coral, roses or snow. People were not created in the image of perfection, so thier characters cannot be compared to nature. One example of the ironic changes he makes occurs in the line “hair of black wires.” We are therefore forced to ask ourselves, what this different kind of portrayal reveals to us. Is this mistress ugly and unworthy of any love? I think that it is the opposite case. Shakespeare does not try to display the mistress as ugly, yet simply as quite human. Unlike other poems and sonnets, this mistress is not described as a goddess with golden hair, stunning eyes and the body of a beauty queen, but rather as a “real” woman. Sonnets are usually about intense love and deep beauty. Usually the poets descibe how wonderful their mistresses are, yet Shakespeare takes this sonnet to another level. It seems that the mistress is very down-to-earth in comparison to other women in poems. This trait may be what provides the stimulus for the narrator’s love. One could conclude that other poets were never in love with the women they were portraying, because they never descibed the true mortal characteristics of the female, as Shakespeare did. They only discuss the short-lived qualities of a woman, that fade after years. As the quote says: “Beauty is only skin deep,” I think Shakespeare gets much more intense. He shows how he loves her profoundly even though she is not perfect. It is the woman’s ability to grasp his interest, beyond these limitations of beauty, that enchants the persona here. For example, she is able to arouse his heart with what she says and not simply with the sound of her voice. After finding fault with her appearance and other details of his beloved, the persona goes on to reveal his rare love for his mistress. Shakespeare sets this up so that one first believes that the persona does not care for his beloved, yet further on, he reveals his rare love for her. In this sonnet, Shakespeare parodies the conventions of courtly love, which dictate that flatter their mistress with exaggerated praise of their beauty. The last two lines of “Sonnet 130″ present a classic Shakespearean twist. He declares that his mistress is “as rare” as other women whose beauty has been exaggerated with “false compare.” Many poets boast of the beauty and completeness of their mistresses, and Shakespeare does not. He displays her as real, not just a mirage of hopes and dreams. Shakespeare want to make clear that he prefers the figure of the earthly woman that he visualizes, hence he describes his beloved in a lesser light than found in others’ poetry. Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 130,” seems to question the validity of love in general. How does one know when one is in love? Is it such a worthy act to fall in love with a goddess? Perhaps if these earlier poets were more observant in their portrayals they would have fallen in love with the heroism of more earthly and mortal women, able to attract their attention, nonetheless, instead of comparing them to objects, and therefore emphasizing their beauty as love. We must look deeper into a soul than that of their appearances. Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 130,” is an exception to the most often read sonnets and it is a special one at that. The way he describes his love, one can tell that he values her for more than she surfaces to be. It is admirable that he can see past her flaws and love her for who she is, not for who she appears to be.


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