Essay about William Shakespeare’s Sonnets and Philip Sidney's Astrophil and Stella

Essay about William Shakespeare’s Sonnets and Philip Sidney's Astrophil and Stella

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In truly Renaissance English artistic fashion, poets such as Phillip Sidney and William Shakespeare negotiate poetic boundaries, while implementing Italian conventions. They manipulate the sonnet form and climb Castiglione’s “ladder of love” throughout their poems. Sidney’s Astrophil (Astrophil and Stella) behaves wildly, as Castiglione’s Bembo (The Courtier) expects from a young courtier; he is incapable of being able to see beyond physical form. Shakespeare’s speaker in “Sonnet 130” sees beyond form, almost to a fault. He berates his lover by straying from typical poetic intimacy, but he does so because he sees beyond her physical beauty. Sidney implements predominantly traditional Petrarchan sonnets, but creates a caricature of a “sensual lover;” while Shakespeare experiments with style, and he creates an exceptionally “reasonable lover.” Some scholars sharply contrast the two authors, asserting that Shakespeare’s Sonnets negatively respond to sonnets like Astrophil and Stella. However, the two both develop distinctive stylistic alterations to Italian conventions and Shakespeare borrows from Sidney within his poetic innovation.
Castiglione’s The Courtier outlines various principles ingrained in courtly Renaissance culture, and in his piece, he discusses the power of reasonable love versus sensual love: Reasonable loves are more attentive to their loved ones’ needs. Castiglione also has his character Bembo assert that the lovers most capable of “reasonable love” are older men. He declares that young lovers are more apt to be carried away by feelings of “bitterness… wretchedness… jealousies…desperations [and] suspicions” (715). Meanwhile, elder lovers are prone to treat their women with more sensitivity and grace, which attra...


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... Norton Anthology of English Literature. 9th ed. Vol. D. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2012. 1166-86. Print.
Sidney, Phillip. Astrophil and Stella. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt and M. H. Abrams. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 9th ed. Vol. D. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2012. 1045-1083. Print.
Sidney, Phillip. Defense of Poesy. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt and M. H. Abrams. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 9th ed. Vol. D. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2012. 1084-1101. Print.
"Sonnet." Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6Th Edition (2013): 1. Literary Reference Center. Web. 3 Dec. 2013.
Steele, Felicia Jean. "Shakespeare's SONNET 130." Explicator 62.3 (2004): 132-137. Academic Search Complete. Web. 29 Nov. 2013.
Wood, Jane. "Elizabeth Barrett Browning And Shakespeare's Sonnet 130." Notes & Queries 52.1 (2005): 77-79. Humanities International Complete. Web. 2 Dec. 2013.

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