Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"My mistress' eyes" by William Shakespeare

The tone of this poem is very unique in the fact that it is a love sonnet which emphasizes negative qualities rather than exemplifying ones of beauty. Normally, these kinds of poems are professions of the speaker's love in greatly exaggerated comparisons. He might say something like his lover's eyes "shine like the sun", or that her hair is "soft as silk" - comparisons that every reader knows are stretched to flatter the woman he is referring to. In Shakespeare's poem; however, he does not romantically exaggerate his wife's attributes at all and instead chooses to describe her exactly as she is. By doing this, Shakespeare is implying that he does not have to write of extravagant qualities like other poets do to express his love. From lines 1-12, the tone of Shakespeare's words must be analyzed carefully. Although he is not exactly complementary at the beginning of the poem, the intent behind his words prove that he loves her completely the way she is. Regardless of the fact that there are prettier things out there, he still loves his wife unconditionally. Near the end, there is another tone shift in which the speaker makes a comparison of himself to other men. He says that his love is just as special as a man's who sings his wife's praises and isn't always truthful to make her feel beautiful. The fact that he chose to verbalize his love for her in an atypical way does not make it any less valid or meaningful, it merely makes it different. The tone of this poem is contradictory but loving.

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