Sonnet 130 Essay

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Shakespeare’s SONNET 130 William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130 draws attention to the pattern of change and questioning spirit of the Renaissance by presenting a perception of love that challenges traditional conventions. This is a common trait of Shakespeare’s later sonnets. Rather than using Petrarchan concepts to present an idealised version of romantic love, Shakespeare deliberately opposes the traditional form. In doing so he casts a mature, more realistic outlook on relationships. The beloved in Sonnet 130 is described in an unappealing manner, and yet, because of his honest depiction of her the poet-speaker considers his love to be true. The sonnet suggests true, authentic feelings can only be expressed when traditional conventions are set aside. This essay will examine the various technical features used by Shakespeare to emphasise this theme. The discussion will also consider the context in which the sonnet was written. It is immediately clear that Sonnet 130 challenges traditional concepts of romantic love. The sonnet follows a strict mechanical form that is shaped by rules and conventions, however, there is an organic element in the way in which the poet-speaker engages with those conventions. Conventions are literary devices so widely used they become accepted and expected as foundations for a framework within which to write (Murfin and Ray 80). A popular convention with sonneteers is the use of conceits established by Italian poet Francesco Petrarch that present an exaggerated image of the beloved through the use of hyperbole and oxymoron (379). In his Rime Sparse, Petrarch repeatedly comments on the “physical charms and unassailable virtue” of the beloved, stating her beauty as due to “golden hair, resplendent eyes…lustrous skin, ruby lips, white hand and neck” (Vaccaro 243). Sonnet 130 directly engages with these concepts, however, rather than idealising
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