William Shakespeare 's Sonnet 130 Essay

William Shakespeare 's Sonnet 130 Essay

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In his "Sonnet 130," William Shakespeare presents an uncommon variation on the staple Elizabethan era love poem. While sonnets on the subject of love typically presented a problem which would be solved through the poet 's skills of rhetoric, in "Sonnet 130" Shakespeare creates a unique satirical love poem which eschews the common idealistic comparisons on a woman 's beauty in favor of a photographic accuracy. The poem 's final rhyming couplet makes it clear that the author 's intentions are to depict realistic and not idealistic beauty. While it would be a basic interpretation to read the "mistress" in the sonnet as the author 's lover, a closer analysis reveals a more unorthodox possibility. Instead of interpreting the sonnet as a standard love poem, it could be proposed that the so-called mistress is in fact a female innkeeper at an establishment such as a tavern. This approach proposes that the female innkeeper is in fact the mistress, as that would be her actual title as mistress of the house, and that her seemingly unattractive descriptions are in fact caused by her profession and work environment. However, the unflattering imagery which the poet ascribes to her physical appearance -- i.e., lips, breasts, and cheeks -- are replaced by slightly more flattering descriptions as the poem progresses, and the speaker, presumably, becomes more intoxicated. As a result of the speaker 's altered state of mind, this ordinarily unspectacular beauty becomes an object of affection and even love, thanks in part to the products of her trade.

The author begins the sonnet with a negative description, cleverly depicting what his subject 's eyes are not. Right away we know that the woman being described isn 't the usual type of woman...


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...30" is unique in that its strongest expressions of love are withheld until the end, and rely on the speaker 's state of increasing intoxication. This change in mental state accounts for the change in language from the unflattering descriptions early on to the more loving and affectionate feelings expressed later in the poem. This continued consumption of alcohol results in the speaker 's proclamation of love -- a state defined as "rare" because it will most likely be gone in the morning. It is clear in the poem that the speaker 's complex maze of attraction and derision is cyclic, transforming the unattractive innkeeper to the prized jewel of his eye on a weekly or perhaps daily basis. Through the clever use of negative descriptions and false comparisons, the author confides to paper what is effectively a bipolar relationship with the woman he both loathes and loves.

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