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Poet and Critic

Analysis of the work of literature

William Shakespeare’ Sonnet 130

One of the most interesting and nice sonnets written by the famous English poet William Shakespeare is his sonnet 130. It is known that the poem was written in 1590s but the theme developed by the poet in this sonnet is actual at all times. It is the theme of love. The poet describes the young man’s love to a woman. The poet gives full description of her face, her appearance, her voice, her walk. However, his description proves the fact that his mistress is not so attractive. (Mowat & Werstine, 2004, p.97)

Nevertheless, the young man loves her too much. The negative connotations which are given by the poet show that this woman is not a beauty:

My mistress eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips red. (Shakespeare, 2000, p.153)
The poet compares such beautiful images as the sun, red coral, white snow, red and white roses, pleasing music, delightful perfumes, and even a goddess with his mistress but he cannot find her eyes, lips, breasts, cheeks, voice and walk beautiful. It is clear that the poet wants his readers to understand the major truth of love. Beauty is not the major reason of human love. There is also spiritual beauty of a woman which attracts attention of the opposite sex. The poet shows his true love to this woman. He does not want to exaggerate his mistress’ beauty. He wants to be fair. William Shakespeare uses a lot of stylistic devices in order to make his language living and bright. Among them are numerous epithets (“red and white”, “pleasing sound”), metaphors (“black wires grow on her head” and others), comparisons (“ my mistress’ eyes are nothing like the son”), allusion (I have seen roses domask’d”). This sonnet is written in the iambic pentameter which is very melodious. (Steele, 2003, p.21)

The poetry has an enormous force which helps a person to express his true feeling.

My personal reaction to the poem

I think that this sonnet is a good example of human relations. A young man has a clear image of an ideal woman which he represents in this sonnet. It is his fantasy. However, he loves his mistress, a real woman in his real life who is not so perfect but whose soul is beautiful. He loves her dearly. I think that this poem is an educatory one because it teaches us to love real people, to find beauty in their character, in their behavior. The poet chooses a real woman but not a goddess whom he has never seen. He wants to be fair in his love relations. I think that any man should be fair to his woman. Only fair relations can be the basis of true love.


Mowat, B., Werstine, P. (2004) Shakespeare’s Sonnets. New York Press.
Shakespeare, W. (2000) Shakespeare’s Sonnets. Yale University Press.
Steele, F. (2003) Shakespeare Sonnet 130. Harvard University Press.