Shakespeare's Sonnets

The Art of Parody: Critical Analysis of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130 College

Petrarch, a passionate poet exemplifying the ideals of “Courtly Love” in his sonnets, rhapsodizes Laura, a married woman he may never touch. Inspired by a Troubadour style of ode, his work is akin to an Hymn of Love, although unrequited. It is a classical type of sonnet that glorifies one’s love, usually a chaste woman of immaculate beauty and often loved by a Knight. Shakespeare, inspired by this method yet rejecting its’ ideals, reverses our expectations of the traditional themes expressed in sonnets. In “[My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun]” (also known more commonly as “Sonnet 130”), Shakespeare rejects the idea of idolizing his love’s beauty. Known throughout his body of work as the “dark lady”, this woman is seemingly torn apart by her apparent lack of classic conformity to the conventions of the time. In this sense, Shakespeare refuses the Petrarchan perception of love by actively emphasizing her flaws. It is his way of using the blazon form (the grand praising of one’s lover’s virtues) ironically to portray his the object of his affection. How does he convey his grand devotion to the “dark lady” all the while insulting every fibre of her being? At first glance, one might consider this poem to be decidedly...

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