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Compare and contrast of "Sonnet 18" and "My Mistress."

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safalpaudel | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 18, 2008 at 2:21 AM via web

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Compare and contrast of "Sonnet 18" and "My Mistress."

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sesmith5 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

Posted April 18, 2008 at 5:38 AM (Answer #1)

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Both of these sonnets address the speakers love for a woman.  In sonnet 18, the comparisons are almost hyperbolic.  The woman is compared to a summer's day and the beautiful summer's day is found wanting in comparison to the woman.  This poem is written to immortalize the woman.  "As long as men can breathe and eyes can see, so long lives this (the poem) and this gives life to thee."  The comparisons, in some small way, can be seen as a comfort to a woman who may be facing thoughts of her mortality.  The speaker reassures the woman that she will not be conquered either in death or in the dimunition of her beauty because the poem immortalizes this moment of her perfect youthful beauty.  In the second poem, Sonnet 130, we see a more realistic speaker who, instead of trying to immortalize the beauty of his beloved, insists that her beauty is not why he loves her in the first place.  Instead of flattering her vanity with false or insincere comparisons to nature's wonders, he insists that it is not her appearance at all that he loves but rather her intrinsic nature or personality.  She is not more beautiful than other women physically, but she is perfect for him and he refuses to falsely flatter her.  "And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare / As any she belied with false compare."

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