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William Shakespeare,
?Sonnet ?130? ?

Sonnet ?130? deals with the "dark lady" who in her darkness is compared to the "fair" ideal of female beauty of the time.

In line 1 the speaker describes the eyes of his mistress as "nothing like the sun", which already indicates a negative description of this woman. Then her lips are not as "red" as "coral" (line 2); red coral was a precious stone found in the Mediterranean. Her breasts are not white as "snow" as they should be, but "dun" (line 3). The author uses the metaphor "black wires" to describe his lover's hair on the background of the term "golden wires", which was a common comparison to the ideal of the beautiful blond hair of the lady; the word "black" now gives it a negative value.
Moreover, her cheeks are not coloured as beautiful as ?roses damasked? (lines 5 and 6), which refers to two-coloured roses (red and white). Then the author says that her breath does not smell like "perfumes" (lines 7 and 8) and the sound of her voice has not such a "pleasing sound" as "music". Nor does she walk like a "goddess", but "treads on the ground" which has the positive meaning, that she is a real down-to-earth person and walks on the ground like a human being.

All the things the lady is compared with are descriptive standards in the poetry of the time; they are just turned upside down. The mistress in the Petrarchan sonnets was, as said before, perfect, she had eyes like the sun, golden hair, and she moved like a goddess. But Shakespeare's mistress is really everyday, she is no longer a poetic invention far away from the poet's world. Therefore, the love for such a person as described by Shakespeare is real and can be trusted in real life. The Petrarchan sonnet only dealt with an absolutely futile love of a man to a superior woman. Shakespeare oversteps the boundaries of the Petrarchan sonnet and opens the art of sonnets for new topics and ideas.

Furthermore, Shakespeare criticises the ideal of the "fair lady" as a "false" lady . Maybe he wants to critisize Elisabeth herself made by ironic and sarkastic comments. But that is only speculation. Instead, he makes the ladies and the poetry about them more realistic and brings them both closer to life. He does this with some irony and .....
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