Sonnet 20 appears to be about an affectionate love that the speaker
develops for an unnamed man. He describes the man as having a woman's
face that Nature painted with its own hand. The speaker calls this
admired person his "master mistress." He goes on to say that this man
has the gentle heart of a woman but is not inconsistent as is the way
with women. He has eyes that are brighter than the eyes of any women.
His eyes are so true and sincere that they light up every object that
they look upon. He is a man of shape and form (and of authority) and
all other figures are in his control. Furthermore, he steals the
attention of men and amazes the hearts of women. The speaker continues
to explain his reasons for not being able to be with this man. The
speaker claims that this man was originally intended to be created as
a woman. However, Nature made a foolish mistake in making him. By
adding one extra thing, Nature has defeated the poet. By adding this
one feature, she has prevented the poet from ever fulfilling his
desire in having him. Then the poet exclaims that although Nature made
this man for the pleasure of women, let his body be women's treasure
and let him have this man's love.
Sonnets are often written about desire, whether it be the desire of a
man and woman for one another, or a desire to fulfill a missing
element in one's life. William Shakespeare's sonnets are well-known
for including varying themes of shame, happiness, melancholy, fear and
so forth. His sonnets focus on a young man, a woman and sometimes a
male friend, often expressing the relationships between all three.
... middle of paper ...
..."hue" and "hues" as though to note a difference
in the meaning of each word. This works out because they do have
different meanings in the ways that they are used. "Hue" refers to the
authority of the speaker, whereas after the break, "hues" become all
the other figures or men who have also been drawn to this particular
Thus, it is evident in the overall poem that the relationship between
the speaker and the targeted male is not of two good friends. The
speaker is experiencing a feeling of deep sensual love for a man.
Indeed, there is nothing in a poem that is accidental. The structure,
rhythm, and even the sound of the poem is a clue in grasping the
poem's true meaning.
Shakespeare, William. ?Sonnet 20? Poetry Archive.
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