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What does the speaker long for even though it causes him pain in sonnet 35?

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whatsmyname3 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 2, 2011 at 9:34 AM via web

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What does the speaker long for even though it causes him pain in sonnet 35?

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susan3smith | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted January 2, 2011 at 9:51 AM (Answer #1)

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The speaker in Spenser's Sonnet 35 longs to "behold the object" of his eyes' pain.  In other words, he longs to see the woman he covets even though the sight of her makes him hurt all the more.  He knows he can never have her, so when he sees her, he is in pain.  Yet, he cannot help to look at her because she is so beautiful.  He compares himself to Narcissus, the young man in Greek mythology, who also destroyed himself by viewing an adored object.  In Narcissus' case, it was his own reflection; in the speaker's case, the adored one is the woman.  It is a beautiful sonnet of pained unrequited love.  If you've ever had a crush on someone that you knew would never love you back, you will be able to relate to the words of the speaker.

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