Compare and Contrast two sonnets by Shakespeare ‘Shall I compare thee’ and ‘My mistresses eyes’
I am going to compare Sonnet 130 (‘My mistresses eyes’) and ‘Shall I compare thee’.
They are both sonnets about love and appearances. Even though both sonnets have similar subjects they have differing themes. My mistress’s eyes is a realistic sonnet about the depth of Shakespeare’s love for his mistress. He uses his mistress’s faults to prove how deep his love is. He criticises her features instead of criticising the objects he is comparing her too.
This is not like other Shakespearean sonnets. However, in ‘Shall I compare thee’ the poet is idealistic. He uses hyperbole and excessive imagery to create an image of his lover’s perfection. Instead of listing his lovers faults he states faults with what he has compared his lover too. In both sonnets Shakespeare’s lovers are being compared to objects in nature or natural things. This is because nature creates objects that are not entirely perfect and this helps Shakespeare to find faults with the object or with his lover.
‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s Day?’ (Shall I compare thee)’My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun’ (Sonnet 130)However similar these lines may be both have different meanings. They are both the opening lines to each sonnet. The words ‘Shall I compare thee’ are asking the lover directly (in 2nd person) but ‘My mistress’ eyes’ is addressing the reader directly (therefore talking about her in the third person). At the beginning of each sonnet this gives the effect that Shakespeare is not trying to flatter his mistress and is criticising her but by addressing his lover directly he uses compliments to flatter his lover . This makes ‘Shall I compare thee’ seem unreal and not genuine because Shakespeare is not mentioning any faults that his lover may have. In ‘Shall I compare thee’ Shakespeare uses personification to describe things in nature.
‘the eye of heaven shines’This is a very powerful phrase in the sonnet because this describes his lover as being amazingly beautiful. It is personifying the sun . The sun radiates light and is untouchable by humans. This means that Shakespeare thinks that his lover is like this.Both sonnets are 14 lines and adopt the Shakespearian sonnet form of regular metre and iambic pentameter.
They also both contain 3 quatrains and a final rhyming couplet to conclude the sonnet. Finally, like most other sonnets, they are about love.However, since love is quite a broad category to write about each sonnet adopts the subject in different ways. ‘ Shall I compare thee’ is conventional as it adopts all of the common features of a sonnet in the way it usually does. It exaggerates the feeling of love and the looks of his lover by romanticising them’But thy eternal sommer shall not fade’This is a common feature in sonnets about love. Sonnet 130 is a parody.
The whole sonnet is written in a mocking tone and is not entirely serious. The poet criticises idealism through imitation. He uses hyperbole but exaggerates his mistress’s bad attributes instead of her good ones. He turns conventional images around.’ If hair be wires, black wires grown on her head’However, because both sonnets are written by the same person this is self-parody.
It appears to the reader that Shakespeare has decided to mock himself to express the differences between physical love and emotional love. He shows that beauty can come from the inside and also the outside. In ‘shall I compare thee’ he says that his lovers beauty will never fade, which is true but in ‘my mistresses eyes’ he talks of love without beauty and this means that his love is deep and won’t fade because his lover already has faults and yet he still loves her.The word ‘more’ is used excessively in both sonnets. The word is used to describe something, which is better than something else.
In Sonnet 130 Shakespeare describes how objects in nature are more beautiful than his mistress.’Coral is far more red, than her lips red’To further emphasise the bad aspects of his mistress, Shakespeare uses object, which aren’t natural, such as perfume. He also goes beyond looks and talks of her smell and sound. He compares her to things that he has heard, smelt and touched.’And in perfume is there more delightThan in the breath that from my mistress reeks’This is the complete opposite in ‘shall I compare thee’ Shakespeare describes how his lover is more lovely than anything else.
”Thou art more lovely and more temperate’The first impressions from each sonnet were completely different. In ‘Shall I compare thee’ you know instantly that Shakespeare is in love and admires his lover. On the contrary to this in Sonnet 130 Shakespeare does not show any admiration for his lover until the third quatrain.’I love to hear her speak yet well I know that music hath a far more pleasing sound’This is when you discover that Shakespeare actually loves his mistress and later describes his love as rare.’I think my love is rare’He says this because he hasn’t used the sonnet to flatter his mistress but has still described his love for her, which contradicts what he previously said about her proving that he still loves her. Even though the meaning of the poem is that beauty lies within in both sonnets Shakespeare concentrates on physical attributes which shows they still matter to Shakespeare a great deal.
Sonnet 130 shows realistic love and ‘Shall I compare thee…’ shows romantic love. Both poems are concluded with a rhyming couplet. Both couplets are positive and describe his love for his lovers’.
‘Shall I compare thee.’ says that love is eternal and will live beyond anything else. Sonnet 130 says that he loves his mistress but doesn’t want to compare her to things, which are too great because then she will not reach the high expectations set for her.