Essay, Pages 4 (763 words)
The first three quatrains or line 1-12 of William Shakespeare’s Poem My Mistress’ Eyes are Nothing Like the Sun can easily be seen as an insulting and negative tone “ If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun” “Than in the breath of my mistress reeks” . But in truth the tone of the poem is humoristic, realistic and philosophical ,and as the poem progresses the true tone also progresses because although her lips aren’t coral red, her breasts not white as snow her hair not shiny he still loves her as she is and he doesn’t make her into something that she is not.
“ And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare As any she belied with false compare” The poem can also be seen as a satire to the conventional poets of the time and their unrealistic image of true beauty, and shows it to be predictable and a cliché.
At first glance it might seem as if he is mocking her.
But he is actually mocking and undermining the Petrarchan sonnets and metaphors of the time. The poet does not render a false image of his mistress, he compares her with the most beautiful objects in nature in the first two quatrains “ My mistress’s eyes are nothing like the sun. Coral is far more red than her lips red. If snow be white then her breasts are dun” this states the poet will not compliment her on a quality she does not have but he is still in love with her “And yet, by heaven , I think my love as rare.
As any she belied with false compare.”
My Mistress’ Eyes are Nothing Like the Sun is not a classical Petrarchan sonnet. The poet will rather comment on the physical attributes his lover lacks in line 1-12 “ My mistress’s eyes are nothing like the sun; Coral is far more red than her lips red; If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun” And state that he still loves her the way she is , than to portray his love for his mistress in an unrealistic , romanticized way that is a cliché “And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare. As any she belied with false compare” Shakespeare’s use of the unrealistic comparisons made by his fellow poets gives the sonnet a humoristic twist.
The poet uses simile in line 1” My mistress’s eyes are nothing like the sun” which he uses to compare his lovers eyes to the brightness of the sun A metaphor uses the word ”like”. In line 2-4 the poet uses Petrarchen conceit metaphor. The poet compares his mistress to nature and the beauty it holds. The poet also uses a metaphor in line 6, where he compares her pale cheeks to roses. The poet uses personification in line 4 “ If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head”. He speaks of the wires like they are an object on their own and not part of his lover.
Yes, even in today’s society women are expected to be almost unrealistically beautiful, and meet the standards set by society and the media. Women everywhere are made to belief that all other women have perfect hair, nails and skin every day, when the reality is that no women will look flawless as the magazines and television portray without the help of make-up, a hairstylist and in some cases photo shop or even plastic surgery.
Women are pressured to live up to the expectation of big bright eyes, full red lips, flawless skin, soft and shiny hair,“ My mistress’s eyes are nothing like the sun; Coral is far more red than her lips’ red; If now be white, why then her breasts are dun ; If hairs be wires ,black wires grow on her head”. 7) The couplet at the end of the poem line 13-14 “ And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare As any she belied with false compare.” shifts the tone from humoristic to loving and compassionate. The couplet shows us that even with all her flaws he still loves her unconditionally, and will not change her into anything she isn’t.
- Byrne.D , Kalua.F & Scheepers.R 2012. Foundations in English Literary Studies. ENG1501 study guide. Page 12, 13, 31, 33. University of South Africa. Mucklneuk, Pretoria.
- Shakespeare , W. Sonnet 130
- Moffet , H & Mphahlele,E. 2002. Seasons come to pass. A poetry anthology for Southern African Students. 2nd edition. Page 24 &25. Cape Town: Oxford University Press