Analysis of Sonnet 130 by William Shakespeare


“My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun; Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;” this is the opening line to Shakespeare’s sonnet #130, I would not begin reading this and believe he was deeply in love with said woman. Shakespeare continues in his sonnet to describe further features of his mistress, none of which are enticing to the reader. Each feature is compared to something more beautiful than she can be.

“If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.” Shakespeare describes his “beloveds” hair which is not described to be long and soft or smelling of sweet perfume, he describes it as wires which depicts coarse, and lack luster. His Mistress has breath that is unappealing and cheeks that do not resemble that of a rose. “I love to hear her speak” Shakespeare begins and gives some hope that maybe he may have something good to say but continues with “yet well I know, That music hath a far more pleasing sound.” And all yearn for an appealing description is gone again. 

At this point in the sonnet, I have lost hope that Shakespeare loves or finds this woman to be attractive, he has done nothing but speak of how she is the opposite of everything beautiful in the world. “And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare as any she belied with false compare.” He describes his love as being rare like heaven and despite her flaws he adores her. Despite having lack luster features and a voice not as pleasing as the beautiful music he loves her. 

Shakespeare’s Sonnet seems to be a bashing of his Mistress, but he closes the sonnet with how rare his love for her truly is, that despite her features he cares and cherishes her. To me this is more meaningful than a poem about the beauty of someone. Having love for someone’s true self is more important than being attracted to their looks. Looks fade but inner beauty will remain.

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