Astrophil and Stella

by Sir Philip Sidney

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Analyze sonnet 2 of "Astrophil and Stella" in detail.

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In sonnet 2 of "Astrophil and Stella," Sidney presents us with a complex study of love that departs considerably from the standard view of poets such as Petrarch.

Whereas Petrarch fell in love with Laura at first sight, it took a little while longer for Astrophil to fall for Stella. What's more, as Astrophil discovers, love is a more painful experience than it was for Petrarch and most other love poets.

For Astrophil has arrived at the grim conclusion that love has turned him into little more than a slave who suffers the kind of tyranny that Russians had to endure at the time when the poem was written. It may have taken him a little while to fall in love with Stella, but Astrophil is now firmly in love's iron grasp.

As one can imagine, Astrophil is far from content with this situation. Effectively, his wit has been destroyed by love, to the extent that what's left is used to try to convince himself that all is well when he knows full well that it isn't. In other words, Sidney's gifts as a poet are being used—or, rather, abused—to lie to himself and his audience that he's perfectly happy with being Stella's lover.

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