Love in the Dark Lady Sonnets

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During Shakespeare’s lifetime, he broke many boundaries and changed the way people wrote. His mind reached beyond the average Englishman of the time and his writing standard was different than the general public. Not only was he different in the literary field, but he also viewed women in a different light than most. Sonnet 127 through Sonnet 154 are referred to as the “Dark Lady Sonnets.” They are referred as so because of this way that Shakespeare describes a woman of his affection in them. Shakespeare’s Sonnets 127, 130, and 138 illustrate his love for a mysterious woman of abnormal beauty, expressing his unusual tendencies as writer and a lover. Shakespeare’s view of beauty is vastly different than that of many, as evident in Sonnet 127. The persona starts with the couplet “In the old age black was not counted fair, / or if it were, it was not beauty’s name” (1-2). At this time, “the archetype of beauty was the unretouched fair woman” (Vendler 540). Women with a dark complexion existed at this time, but were not considered by the majority of people to be beautiful. The persona then says “now is black beauty’s successive heir” (3). He believes that there now needs to be a transition from the traditional beauty into the dark beauty he describes. One reason for this need is because women’s’ “hands hath put on Nature’s power; / fairing the foul with art’s false borrowed face” (5-6). With the new cosmetics, women are now capable to deceiving men into thinking that they are beautiful. They no longer “can tell which are the true beauties and which are false beauties, made by the art” (Vendler 541). They can steal nature’s power and now make themselves beautiful. The persona scorns these women that put on a misleading front and believes that it is the black beauty that is the true beauty. This belief is reflected when he says that “sweet beauty hath no
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