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What kind of love does Shakespeare promote in this extract from Venus and Adonis?And...

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lolaleon | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted January 20, 2013 at 7:06 PM via web

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What kind of love does Shakespeare promote in this extract from Venus and Adonis?

And yet not cloy thy lips with loathed satiety,

But rather famish them amid their plenty,

Making them red and pale with fresh variety,

Ten kisses short as one, one long as twenty:

A summer's day will seem an hour but short,

Being wasted in such time-beguiling sport.'


With this she seizeth on his sweating palm,

The precedent of pith and livelihood,

And trembling in her passion, calls it balm,

Earth's sovereign salve to do a goddess good:

Being so enraged, desire doth lend her force

Courageously to pluck him from his horse.


Over one arm the lusty courser's rein,

Under her other was the tender boy,

Who blush'd and pouted in a dull disdain,

With leaden appetite, unapt to toy;

She red and hot as coals of glowing fire,

He red for shame, but frosty in desire.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 21, 2013 at 6:28 AM (Answer #1)

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Well, Shakespeare isn't necessarily "promoting" the kind of love that is demonstrated in this quote. This quote represents the kind of love that Venus displays towards Adonis, and that he finds so objectionable. Note that this kind of love is characterised by unreasoning passion, depicted in the "coals of glowing fire" that drive Venus and cause her to pick up Adonis as if he were a little boy and carry him away. Her love is all about physical embrace and carnality. This is something that Shakespeare in no way promotes, as later in the poem Adonis rebukes Venus for her lustful love and compares it to true love, which he sees as being divine:

Call it not love, for love to heaven is fled

Since sweating lust on earth usurped his name,

Under whose simple semblance he hath fed

Upon fresh beauty, blotting it with blame...

If anything, Shakespeare is promoting a more divine form of love as modelled in the character of Adonis. Venus only serves to model lust and how unthinking passion clouds reason. It is this that causes her to almost kidnap poor Adonis in the extract above and try and seduce him. In this poem Shakespeare contrasts two very different kinds of love, and clearly places his preference with the divine love expressed by Adonis.


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