Book Review: Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130

Book Review:  Shakespeare Sonnet 130

By, Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu

Shakespeare, perhaps responding the 16th century Elizabethan “sonnet craze,” wrote Sonnet 130. (grin.com) Negated lines, contrasting the periods classical themes of ideals for beauty love and desire appear in his traditional iambic pentameter.  At the finish, the satirical poem reveals a “tenor,” or “target domain” and Shakespeare’s beauty becomes a man.  (grin.com)

Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130 utilizes many literary devices including alliteration, assonance, and repetition.  Some words use consonants close together (alliteration), other lines use words that have similar vowels as in “assonance,” and lastly for emphasis the writer employed repetition where he repeats actual words like “red” or “wire.” (Owlcation)  Most delectable is Shakespeare’s use of “anastrophe,” which highlights the inversion or order of words and draws the reader into to its midpoint.  Anastrophe may have conveyed a secondary meaning where the writer has inverted the sentence structure and fundamentally the traditional subject or ideals of the age-inverting woman for man.  (owlcation/humanities)

The piece was compared to Petrarch and the conventional Italian Sonnet, as well as English poet Edmund Spenser. (grin.com) Other poets have been cited in comparison or as he their disciple, such “Thomas Watson, Michael Drayton, Barnabe Barnes, Richard Linches and Sir Philip Sidney.”(Mowat 1)  Where traditional themes for hair, lips, skin were employed and common comparisons were meant to seem as if “falsified” or unworthy of comparison.  Shakespeare’s “tenor” eventually emerges, full of contrast, with love perhaps unimaginable, without praising beauty but suggesting inadequacy or contrary.  The poem is typical of an English love sonnet with 14 lines, three quatrains and concluding with a heroic couplet. (owlcation/humanities) It uses an “abab cdcd efef gg structure.”  It ends in “stopped lines and has breaks in syntax.” (owlcation)  Lines appear as similes with consistent negative comparison.  The poem utilizes an overt “lyric I,” and is written in the first person singular.  (grin.com)

Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130 has meter and rhyme and relates strongly to the history of the love sonnet. Shakespeare perhaps challenging an Elizabethan status quo which had become predictable, wrote sonnets 127-154 to this “mysterious dark lady.” (owlcation) The mysterious dark lady may have possibly been a real-life lover. (owlcation) Sonnet 130, is meant to be a radical in a time period where traditional poets are often alluding to the ideal woman who is compared to sunlight and roses, and who in this case, may not have had a soft gait, but a thud.

Works cited:

Shakespeare, William. “Sonnet 130,” Abcarian, Richard, Marvin Klotz, and Samuel Cohen, eds. Literature: The Human Experience: Reading and Writing. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2016. Print. p.838

Abcarian, Richard, Marvin Klotz, and Samuel Cohen, eds. Literature: The Human Experience: Reading and Writing. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2016. Print.

https://www.grin.com/document/372431 An Analysis of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130. The concept of love and beauty, Bergische Universität Wuppertal  (Anglistik und Amerikanistik) Introduction to Literary Studies,  2017

https://owlcation.com/humanities/Analysis-of-Sonnet-130-by-William-ShakespeareNorton Anthology, Norton, 2005

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonnet_130

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