Venus and Adonis

Tragic Victims, Masterpiece Poems: A Comparison of "Venus and Adonis" and "The Rape of Lucrece" 12th Grade

Shakespeare and Sex How do Venus and Adonis and Rape of Lucrece together serve as an interrogation of sexuality? What’s the message? The only works Shakespeare personally published, Venus and Adonis and Rape of Lucrece, were written and published in dedication to Henry Wriothesley, the Earl of Southampton. The extended narrative poems may be read as commentary on the Renaissance and Monarchy, as well as an interrogation of sexuality. Through his two poems, Venus and Adonis and Rape of Lucrece, Shakespeare intends to illustrate the beauty of love and advise against acting on lustful desires when love is not present. Ultimately, while art and literature grew more erotic in response to the revival of the Renaissance, both poems serve to admonish lust and warn about the dangers of impulsive and lustful action.

Interestingly, this warning lacked gender specificity. Both males and females were cast as the victims of a lustful pursuant in the two poems. More important than the gender, is the physical appearance of the victims. In both poems, the victims of a lustful pursuant were blamed for being too beautiful. Both Adonis and Lucrece are desired for their beauty and seemingly nothing more. Beauty itself doth of itself persuade The...

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