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Sonnet 130 by William Shakespeare, Essay Example

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Essay

This is another of Shakespeare’s immortal sonnets. This takes the form of 14 lines, and each line possesses 10 syllables. It divides neatly into three sets of four lines with a fourth section, a postscript, comprised of two additional lines. The first and third lines of the trio of four lines rhyme. Typical of a sonnet of Shakespeare are the last two lines, which always rhyme. Here we have iambic pentameter, with its weak, strong, weak strong rhythm. This is a strict form.

Shakespeare draws a comparison between the eyes of his beloved and the sun. In the sun, he finds beauty and glow. In nature, he finds beauty and color. He can find examples more beautiful in nature than those are that describe his love. He speaks with a mature voice. He no longer sees her for what she might be, he sees her for what she is. He finds that she is beautiful in her own way, and most importantly, she is beautiful to him.

This, at first, appears that Shakespeare is being mean or cruel to his beloved, but then he uses the word rare. At that moment, the reader suddenly gets what he is saying. He does not need to flatter her anymore. We assume that she no longer needs to hear words like that. He loves her for who she is.

We find out quickly what his love is “not.” Line four is troubling. We do not really get his meaning when he says “if hairs be wires.” What does this mean? They did not have electrical wires when he wrote this. He must have meant something else. Perhaps “wires” carried another connotation in Shakespeare’s Elizabethan world. Perhaps this is why Mabillard (2009) instructs students of Shakespeare to look for themes, discover literary devices, and, most importantly, hang close to an Oxford dictionary when studying the great wordsmith, Shakespeare.

Her voice pleases him, but she does not remind him of angelic choirs. The last two lines turn everything around. This is typical of what he does with the last two lines. See line 13, “and yet…” turns everything around. Here Shakespeare proves once again that he owns the words he uses. They do his bidding. Only Shakespeare can spend 12 lines telling his love all the things she is not, turn everything around with two remaining lines, and make her love it.  Everything about this is over the top. He provides lots of drama.

The fact that he is not showering his love with sickly sweet language makes him more believable as a lover. As has been stated, it is not erotic, but he manages to get in a few words that evoke sensuality:  line 2- lips; line 3- breasts; and line 6- cheeks. Words about perfume invoke the sense of smell. Words about music evoke the sense of hearing. He wants to honor her, so he swears to the heavens that she is wonderful.    

This is Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130. This was a popular form of writing in his day in Renaissance England. The sonnet was, and is, prized just as much for its construction as for what is expresses. Here, his sonnet represents a kind of love that is more heartfelt than erotic. This is courtly love. This love is alive. We can imagine him reading his words to her. With all of her imperfections, she is his and his alone. That is the most beautiful sentiment expressed in this sonnet.

Work Cited

Mabillard, Amanda. “How to Analyze a Shakespearean Sonnet. Shakespeare Online 20. 20 Nov 20 Mar 2010 <http://www.shakespeare-online.com/sonnetsanalyze.html>

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