An Analysis Of George Gascoigne's For That He Looked Not Upon Her

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The sixteenth-century English poet George Gascoigne employs increasing intensities of images and exaggerated and emphasized diction in the carefully structured form of his poem, “For That He Looked Not Upon Her,” to explain the reason he cannot look the woman he loves in the face.

The standard sonnet form of the poem supports the speaker’s convincing defense for his actions. It follows the classic “ABAB” rhyme scheme, has perfectly even iambic pentameters, and ends with a rhyming couplet which emphasizes his argument. The speaker begins by addressing a possible ambiguity because his lover may “think it strange” that he does not look at her. Indeed, the reader may be at first mystified as to the speaker’s motivations because, paradoxically,
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The first is a mouse that, having been caught in a trap once before, learns from his mistake and after than suffer the same imprisonment, chooses to hide and is forever more paranoid of any food he eats because it may trap him. Tragically, this analogy suggests that the speaker, having been so hurt by the deceit of his lover, will live the rest of his life in fear of a replication of the tragedy and consequently will never love again because he can never again trust things--- like sharing a glance with a beautiful woman--- that, like the fool that trapped the mouse, could subject him to the same torment. The next image, that of a “scorched” fly” conveys an even more heightened sense of the speaker’s pain. That the fly was physically burned suggests that the speaker himself was wounded, metaphorically, and can never fully recover. Additionally, the speaker expounds upon the analogy of his lover as trapping him like a mouse by comparing his actions to burning him, a more violent offense. That the fly “will hardly come to play again with fire” allows the reader more insight into what has occurred because the speaker suggests that he naively did not realize what he was getting himself into and perhaps at first regarded his growing affection for the woman like a “game”. However, the lines “Whereby I learn that grievous is the game/Which

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