Mary Wroth: Sonnets
How Do I Love Thee
He claims that it is better to have loved and lost. She claims that it is better to never have loved at all. He spends his free time pining for her. She spends her time with him longing for freedom. While modern stereotypes tend to portray men as standoffish rogues, clinging tirelessly to independence, and women as the swooning, lovesick doters, anxiously awaiting the appearance of a ring, Renaissance and Restoration writers offer a strikingly different image of courtship. Through their subtle use of diction and imagery, Sir Philip Sidney, Lady Mary Wroth, and Thomas Shadwell demonstrate that virtuous men tend to be consumed with love, while virtuous women strive to avoid romance altogether. In his "Sonnet 31" of the sequence Astrophil and Stella, Sidney portrays a freshly-rejected yet nevertheless virtuous and lovesick speaker who pines for his lover. Having read Sidney's assessment of the pretentious woman's rejection of the hero, Lady Mary Wroth retorts with a clever condemnation of men's fickleness from the perspective of a reasonable and virtuous woman in her "Song 74." Shadwell's Restoration comedy Bury Fair juxtaposes the noble Bellamy's consuming love of Gertrude with her sound...
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