Shakespeare's Sonnet 116, 116 And 130 By William Shakespeare

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One cannot study William Shakespeare’s work without noticing the way in which his sonnets manage to both subvert and conform to the conventions of Elizabethan love poetry. Shakespeare’s sonnets are striking for many reasons, be it the surprisingly realistic themes, the way he approaches each of his poems subjects of affection or the shocking he topics he discusses. His work stands out against those of his contemporaries as he transforms the rigid form of Elizabethan romance poetry by confounding the conventions he was expected to adhere to. To demonstrate the ways Shakespeare subverted the poetic norms of his time I will be using Sonnets 18, 116, 129 and 130. However Shakespeare did not completely disregard the customary forms of Elizabethan …show more content…
Sonnet 130 for instance is quite obvious in its satirical approach to subverting the conventional Elizabethan love poetry. In the sonnet Shakespeare completely and obviously opposes the usual approach to such a sonnet, instead of focusing on anything that makes her beautiful Shakespeare emphasizes her flaws from the first line; “my mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun”(Greenblatt,1184). This sonnet breaks the important convention of flattering the speaker’s beloved. This approach to the sonnet can be described as an aggressive satire, as Shakespeare mocks not only the expected format of a love sonnet but also those that write in such a form, making the declarations of love written by his fellow poets seem shallow and false. In his radical opposition of falsely flattering the desired subject Shakespeare resists the idea that beauty is the be all and end all in love, the speaker states instead that a true and lasting love should not be affected by beauty, that he still desires his beloved in spite of her flaws. This theme of an unwavering love can also be seen in Sonnet 116. In this poem Shakespeare states that love cannot fade or be altered, outlasting even death, “Love’s not Time’s fool”(Greenblatt,1182). As in many of the sonnets, 116 repeats the speakers acceptance of the …show more content…
As Don Paterson points out ‘with the Young Man he’s in the grip of a pure love, but stalked by the presence of lust’. This can be seen in each of the Fair Youth sonnets as the speaker not only fights to find a way in which to preserve the fair youths beauty but ultimately replaces the role of a wife and son in the young mans life as he proposes that his own poetry will preserve the fair youth for eternity. Paterson then looks to the Dark Lady sonnets in which the speaker is ‘in a grip of a pure lust, but stalked by the absence of love’. This is evident in the way portrays her as rugid, sexual and often times faithless. The Dark Lady sonnets are filled with sexual desire, it’s fulfillment and the ultimate shame that follows, a prime example of this can be seen in sonnet 129. In this sonnet the speaker discusses each stage of lust, its consummation and then articulates the shame one feels. He states that although it is common knowledge that shame often follows sexual acts, it is still unknown how one may avoid feelings of lust in order to avoid the degrading feelings that come with it, “to shun the heaven that leads men to this hell.” (Greenblatt,1183) This sonnet however is presented in an impersonal form; the speaker never says outright that he speaks from experience. This crude subject matter could not be farther from the ideal

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