Sonnet #130

While many of Shakespeare’s sonnets are complex and require in-depth analysis to understand, his 130th sonnet was by far the easiest for me to understand, and I believe its comprehensibility is partly due to the universal and timeless theme: “love is blind.” Shakespeare managed to create a piece of work that remains witty and relatable to modern generations as much as it related to generations at the time of its publishing.

The bulk of the sonnet compares Shakespeare’s “mistress” to a variety of beautiful things while making sure the reader understands that his lover does not compare in the slightest to the allure of any of the examples Shakespeare provides. Shakespeare writes about his “mistress’s” dull lips and eyes, her bad breath, and her voice, which cannot compare to music’s “pleasing sound.” While it may seem as though Shakespeare views his lover in a less than exemplary light, the couplet at the end reveals Shakespeare’s true feelings. Shakespeare concludes his 130th sonnet with a declaration of “rare” love and informs the reader that love with “false compare” is not as pure as Shakespeare’s love for his “mistress.”

This sonnet features a female “mistress” which is a shift from the male subject of the bulk of Shakespeare’s earlier sonnets. While initially, the sonnet seems to illustrate the “mistress’s” less attractive look when compared to Shakespeare’s other lovers, the couplet tells a different story. The couplet shows that Shakespeare’s love for his “mistress” is less physical than his love for the male subject of the previous sonnets. Additionally, the last line of the couplet contradicts Shakespeare’s previous sonnets, which were full of flattering comparisons to beautiful things, by defining love with “false compare”


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