Sonnet 130 – William Shakespeare “An Unconventional Love” Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 20 September 2016

Sonnet 130 – William Shakespeare “An Unconventional Love”

“Sonnet 130” – William Shakespeare An Unconventional Love I will be writing about William Shakespeare’s poem “Sonnet 130. ” In the sonnet, every other line rhymes, with the exception of the last two lines which rhyme on their own as a rhyming couplet. The poem follows the rhyme scheme of a-b-a-b, c-d-c-d, e-f-e-f, g-g. This sonnet is written in iambic pentameter, containing fourteen lines and ten syllables within each line. The iambic pentameter makes the sonnet sound redundant, placing emphasis on every other word, giving an overall dull feeling. This creates a redundant sound.

This is offset by the use of imagery within the text, using colours such as “red” to describe the beautiful “coral” and “white” to describe the brightness and pure “whiteness” of the reflection of the sun off of the snow. There is a contrast between the vibrant, beautiful “red” of the coral as being far more “red” than that of “her lips’. ” In a similar fashion, the “black wires” that come from her head, depict coldness and bleakness. I noticed that there is imagery of smell being used, through the contrast of delightful perfumes compared to “the breath that from my mistress reeks.

” Another source of imagery I noticed was through sound. The mistress’ voice cannot compare to that of music illustrates the idea that her voice is not like that of sweet, enchanting music. The second sound imagery is found in the way “she walks, treads on the ground. ” It produces heavy thumping and a lack of elegance as envisioned when I think of a “goddess go. ” There is also a link to religion or a higher power, when “goddess” and “heaven” are depicted. The alliteration in line eleven and twelve, the hard “g” sounds can be heard in “grant,” “goddess,” “go,” and “ground.

” There is assonance found in line one with the “i” sounds, “my,” “eyes,” and “like. ” The most notable feature about this sonnet is the frequent use of metaphors throughout the sonnet, but instead of using them in the conventional, romantic manner, he uses them against themselves. This sonnet has a strong element of satire, playing with conventional poetic metaphors. In the conventional manner, the mistress’ eyes would be said to be like the sun, creating a link of the beauty of the sun with her eyes. Instead, the striking beauty of nature is stacked up high in comparison to the drab physical characteristics of the mistress.

This creates the consistent effect of the mistress not being good enough, especially due to the notably stunning characteristics found in nature or above that of nature (goddess) in which she is being compared to. When this effect is added on to the repetitive rhythm of the sonnet, it produces a dull feeling. This dullness illustrated by “anti-metaphors” combined with the lack of excitement in the rhythm seems to describe the mistress herself, providing a multifaceted effect. This effect is continuously added on with each line that passes, creating a feeling of an inevitable, impending end do the dreariness.

In William Shakespeare’s, “Sonnet 130,” rhythm, satire, and unconventional use of romantic metaphor provides an opposite effect, that of conventional romance. The use of iambic pentameter brilliantly illustrates a monotonous underlying tone, constructing a path of inevitability. Line by line, the feeling of an impending truth comes closer and closer through the unstressed, stressed, and unstressed syllables. This underlying mood of consistency, is illuminated by the initial sharp visual imagery of the “sun,” illustrated again by the “red” of the “coral,” and lastly by the “white” of the “snow.

” Suddenly, a darkened visual imagery is used and contrasts the initial sharpness that the sonnet began with. The uses of “”black wires” that “grow on her head,” and the use of other metaphors with “no such roses … in her cheeks” and “dun” “breasts” only further create a darkened, dull feeling. We are taken through a variety of visual imagery which is then contrasted between brilliant colours of nature only to be compared to drab visual imagery of his mistress.

There is the sharpness in the mind with brilliant colours of visual imagery through the first two and a half lines, only to be contrasted with dull visual imagery from the middle of line three to line six. This excitement in imagery is dulled with a dimness only to be re-excited through the imagery of smell through the use of metaphor. Once again starting with a positive imagery, the “delight” in the fragrance of “perfume,” only to be contrasted with the pungent “breath that from my mistress reeks.

” Once again, there is a beauty through imagery which is then quickly snuffed out by the “reek” of “breath. ” The contrasting lines seven and eight are those of smell imagery, but once again are quickly replaced with sound imagery. In lines nine to twelve, there the “pleasing sound” of “music” in line ten, trumps the sound of her voice. This is immediately removed from the mind through the tranquility of a “goddess” who flows, only to be contradicted by the way the “mistress … treads on the ground.

” While I have found the rhythm of the sonnet to be monotonous, constant, and drab; like that of the mistress, the exciting alternating effect of sharp and dull visual, smell, and sound imagery has created a contrasting effect. It is as there is a sense of trickery through the use of metaphor and imagery. As soon as my feelings have been settled about the mistress, I am immediately distraught by another image, then taken through another sense, and then another. Even then by the end of the twelfth line, there has been a consistent notion that this mistress will not be kept by him much longer after he has described all these illustrations.

Once again, the sudden change from unconventional romantic metaphor is settled and put to an end. Ironically, this is done through conventional romance, the admittance of his true love for her. In the fourteenth and final line, all of the mistress’ faults in lack of beauty have been justified through a simple truth. The last two lines, “g-g,” is a perfect end to the satirical, metaphorical romance. The use of alliteration in line eleven and twelve through the hard “g” sounds can be heard in “grant,” “goddess,” “go,” and “ground.

” This simulates the heavy treading of the mistress, but also creates the effect of a coming to an end. This can be seen as the metaphor and imagery coming to an end, but also an end to the satirical portion of the sonnet. With an end of the satirical play of metaphorical use, the end uses a strong statement and belief: women are unjustly compared to the beauty of nature. This notion ties into the idea that romantic poems are superficial, describing only the beauty of women. Shakespeare challenges this idea, through strong satirical metaphorical romance that is used against itself.

A love sonnet is generally a beautiful poem, written for simple pleasure and enjoyment, but through this satirical, controversial sonnet, thought is provoked but the conventional feeling of romance is ultimately achieved through a new means. In “Sonnet 130,” the conventional effect of romance through satire, metaphor and nature are challenged, intriguing and provoking the mind to think of alternate ways to view this controversial method and to comprehend the ironic use of satire and metaphor in achieving the original romantic pleasure and effect.

Free Sonnet 130 – William Shakespeare “An Unconventional Love” Essay Sample


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  • University/College: University of Arkansas System

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 20 September 2016

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