Analysis of Shakespeare's Sonnet 130

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The opening line of Shakespeare's Sonnet 130 is a surprising simile: 'My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun'. We might normally expect poets, especially those of Shakespeare's time, to praise the women they love by telling us that their eyes do shine like the sun. But a writer of Shakespeare's calibre is not going to follow the herd and make exaggerated comparisons; here he is describing reality.
Over the next few lines Shakespeare continues to describe his mistress in terms of the senses of sight, smell, sound and touch, but there is no flattery here. Colours are focused on first: 'Coral is far more red than her lips' red' tells us that lips are not naturally a bright red colour. Pale skin would have been sought after, but Shakespeare's mistress had dun-coloured breasts, dun being quite a dark colour. It seems that she did not have soft, sleek hair, as in line four it is compared to wire. Shakespeare relates that he has seen beautiful two-toned or 'damasked' roses, but that there is no rosiness in his mistress' cheeks.
The poet is quite forthright in telling us that his mistress has bad breath; in fact it 'reeks', and there is no hint of perfume. Line nine gives the first compliment: 'I love to hear her speak', but Shakespeare admits in the following line that he would actually prefer music to her voice. In line eleven Shakespeare implies that the way his mistress moves could not be compared to a goddess, and he goes on to say 'My mistress when she walks treads upon the ground', creating the impression that she is heavy-footed.
Sonnet 130 follows that usual structure of the Shakespearean sonnet, with the last two lines being a rhyming couplet, indented. This change marks a change in content too: Shakespeare says that in spite of all the defects, he genuinely loves his mistress: 'I think my love as rare / As any she belied with false compare.' Appearances are…...

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