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Love is said to be one of the most complex emotions for which people tend to have a wide range of explanations​.​ Descriptions of love can be seen as page after page of devotion or merely a sentence of appreciation. William Shakespeare’s poem ‘Sonnet 130: My Mistress’ Eyes Are Nothing Like the Sun’ is a poem about a man’s mistress and how he views her. The poem showcases what is true love in the author’s own interpretations of the three foundations that it similarly contains: comparison, interpretation, and a sense of authenticity.

Words are a wonderful tool to describe a loved one, it gives those who read it a glimpse of what the author is experiencing firsthand. However, in the case of ‘Sonnet 130’, words do not seem to be used in a positive way as the narrator begins to speak. The speaker begins to compare his mistress’ features to those of beings that are generally found appealing by most people. With every line, the speaker emphasizes that the object he is comparing his mistress to is more beautiful than she is. For example, he writes “And in some perfumes there more delight/ Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks” (lines 7-8), which means that the speaker finds the scent of some perfumes more pleasurable rather than the breath of his mistress who he essentially claims to smell quite awful. For the following twelve lines, the speaker almost stresses that his mistress is mundane compared to the beauty of everyday items such as roses, snow, or music. By doing so, it demeans her whole being as a person, but despite this, the speaker’s use of negative words in the comparisons he makes helps showcase the interpretation he is trying to make.

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The comparisons in ‘Sonnet 130’ are indicated quickly and evidently, but due to the choice of words, it is not easily understood how it interprets true love. The speaker gives the readers a bit of a surprise nearing the end as he states, “And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare/ As any she belied with false compare” (lines 13-14). This indicates that the comparisons he made were not to devalue his mistress or their love. He is making the point that there is not a single person who has eyes that are as beautiful as the sun and that every now and again a person’s breath is not going to have bad breath. With these final two lines, the speaker wants to emphasize that there is no person on the planet who has a perfect partner who has all the ‘good’ qualities he compares his mistress to. The speaker also makes a point that, although they did have all those qualities, they are merely physical attributes. If they are ugly on the inside, no matter how beautiful they are, they are also ugly on the outside. Therefore, such comparisons were made with the importance of making the point that comparisons as such should not be core indicators of how a person should view love. This further analysis that the speaker presented allows readers to understand better why he made the comparisons.

Proving whether or not a person’s love for another is genuine can often get misinterpreted. In Shakespeare’s poem, the speaker is greatly frowned upon due to how he begins his apparent declaration of love for his mistress. Before the final two lines of further analysis, the speaker gives the readers a small indication of a change: “I love to hear her speak, yet well I know/ That music hath more a far pleasing sound” (lines 9-10). The speaker is essentially saying that even though the sound of music is much nicer to listen to, he still loves to hear his mistress talk. This can be interpreted as he loving the sound of her voice, but it can also be further interpreted as he loving the words that she speaks, he loves what she speaks about him or to him, or even just how she speaks about life in general. It may be the matter that she does have an unpleasant-sounding voice, but because of the words she speaks, he’d much rather listen to her than to music. Due to the comparison, it may not seem like this is the speaker’s way of showing how authentic his love is, but again after further analysis, it shows otherwise.

Love, no matter how vague or detailed it may be expressed through the written word, will continue to be one of the most complex things to depict. William Shakespeare’s ‘Sonnet 130: My Mistress’ Eyes Are Nothing Like the Sun’ answers the question of what true love is. This poem does so by its key points of comparison, interpretation, and sense of authenticity. The poem always brings confusion to those who read it as initially, it does not seem to relate to love at all, but it has hidden depths to it in which it does reveal a larger interpretation of his words that the comparisons he made were not something to correlate when one is thinking about love.

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