Edmund Spenser’s “Sonnet 54” The world is like a theater and his love is like watching drama unfold on stage. Love has it’s ups and downs, sometimes you’re happy and feel like you are watching a comedy, but then soon after you can become miserable just like the sadness you feel when watching a tragedy. The woman he loves doesn’t seem to happy when he is nor does she try to make him feel better when he is upset, instead she makes fun of him and mocks his feelings. She doesn’t seem to be affected by anything, so he comes to the conclusion that she isn’t a caring person nor can she be, she’s just a heartless human being incapable of love.
The rhyme scheme is that of a Spenserian Sonnet. Spenser uses conceit throughout the first two quatrains in order to get his points across of how love compares to the shows of the theater. Beginning in the third quatrain, Spenser shifts from talking about what his love is like to talking about how the woman he loves mocks him. Spenser uses Caesura in line 13 of the couplet. “What then can move her? if nor mirth nor moan,” This pause is used to get you to understand the importance of this question. He’s so distraught by the fact that this woman is so void of emotion, he can’t believe that nothing affects her and that she can treat him so badly. He ponders if anything could make her feel.
It is interesting how the third quatrain makes somewhat of a different point than the first two. Typically the first three quatrains are used to restate the point of the writer. Each of the three quatrains form their own sentence, as well as the couplet. I believe Spenser does this in order to try and make each point of each quatrain important to the reader. Each quatrain describes something specific but different, they do however all keep with his description of his love. It seems that the couplet’s sentence show’s that the woman is the main cause for his ups and downs and he comes to the conclusion that she will never change.
Spenser uses many poetic devices such as his conceit of love being like someone watching a play, enjambment, breaks and caesurae to get his points across. The content of Sonnet 54 still rings true today, most people probably feel as if their love life is like that of a production on stage.