Love And Desire In Sir Thomas Wyatt's Whoso List To Hunt

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A combination of Petrarch and English sonnet conventions construct love and desire in Sir Thomas Wyatt 's “Whoso List to Hunt”. However, from Petrarch 's perspective, love is transcendent and idealizes the beloved. The poet places his love on a pedestal. Desire, on the other hand, focuses on longing and frustration. The poet 's love is unwanted and injustice (Riddell). In this essay I will examine Petrarchan conventions such as the conceit, as well as illicit, thwarted, and unrequited love, and how they portray passionate pursuits. I will also explore Wyatt 's use of both Petrarchan and English sonnet structures and conventions such as conceit, and illicit, thwarted, and unrequited love. I will argue that Wyatt 's deliberate use of both …show more content…
“Whoso List to Hunt” uses the conceit of a hunt to illustrate the speaker 's pursuit of a woman, represented by a female deer or “hind” (1). The hunt is an excellent representation of desire; it illustrates the one-sided, predatory, and often ineffectual chase of a man to his prey. Mirroring desire as a similar strong feeling of want, the hunt also depicts power over the one being chased. Similarly, the hunt uses the Petrarchan convention of not pitying the prey (Riddell). The speaker calls others over, telling them he “[knows] where is an hind” (1). He does not empathize with the prey, he invites others to share in his quest for triumph, despite foreknowledge of the dangers of his …show more content…
Petrarchan sonnets are about unrequited, mind-consuming, idealized love (Riddell). These poems highlight the love interests qualities and (as we would assume) this love goes on forever. As aforementioned, Wyatt assimilates his own views of women and love by presenting a traditional Petrarchan sonnet, then turning it on its head. While his figuration of females does distance the love interest and give her the power in the duo (as the one who loves less) (Riddell), it does not place her on a pedestal–fantasizing and anatomizing her–nor does the speaker imagine a life with her. In fact, he actually gives up on this idea completely. As well, though Wyatt uses the Petrarchan conventions of desire as inspiration (Riddell) he does not portray the injustice of her refusal. Instead, he speaks of the unfortunate predicament of his and her respective positions in society. He admits that she is “Caesar 's” (13) but he does not condemn her, nor cite it as injustice. He recognizes it, and adds it to the list of reasons his pursuit was pointless. While Petrarch 's sonnet idealizes and fantasizes love, Wyatt 's speaker does the opposite. He does not see his love as transcendent. In fact, as he realizes there is no point to his chase, he is no longer willing to pursue his love, no longer willing to

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