Analysis of the Sonnet, "My Mistress' Eyes are Nothing like the Sun"

Satisfactory Essays
At the time of its writing, Shakespeare's one hundred thirtieth sonnet, a highly candid, simple work, introduced a new era of poems. Shakespeare's expression of love was far different from traditional sonnets in the early 1600s, in which poets highly praised their loved ones with sweet words. Instead, Shakespeare satirizes the tradition of comparing one's beloved to the beauties of the sun. From its opening phrase "My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun", shocks the audience because it does not portray a soft, beautiful woman. Despite the negative connotations of his mistress, Shakespeare speaks a true woman and true love. The sonnet is a "how-to" guide to love.

This poem speaks of a love that is truer than denoting a woman's physical perfection or her "angelic voice." As those traits are all ones that will fade with time, Shakespeare exclaims his true love by revealing her personality traits that caused his love. Shakespeare suggests that the eyes of the woman he loves are not twinkling like the sun: "My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun" (1). Her hair is compared to a wire: "If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head" (3). These negative comparisons may sound almost unloving, however, Shakespeare proves that the mistress outdistances any goddess. This shows that the poet appreciates her human beauties unlike a Petrarchan sonnet that stresses a woman's cheek as red a rose or her face white as snow. Straying away from the dazzling rhetoric, this Shakespearean poem projects a humane and friendly impression and elicits laughter while expressing a truer love. A Petrarchan sonnet states that love must never change; this poem offers a more genuine expression of love by describing a natural woman.

People often want to ensure that they are loved and often demand to know why they are loved. When one is asked a question like "Why do you love me?" one should think about how to answer for a good while. If a man responds to this question by picking specific attributes of a woman, such as her face or figure, she will usually be dissatisfied with his answer. Indeed, loving a woman because of her physical beauty is not the true love described by Shakespeare. In the sonnet, Shakespeare shows a deeper love that is beyond that of physical attraction. To discover the reasons of why two people love each other, they have to go beyond the physical attributes that they favor, and see the person in the aspect of the personal sense.
Get Access