Shakespeare's Sonnets Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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Can you explain and analyze each stanza in Sonnet 130?

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Doug Stuva eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In Shakespeare's Sonnet 130, the speaker parodies traditional love poetry by naming all of the things his love is not.

Traditional love poetry that Shakespeare is lightly ridiculing uses hyperbole to figuratively describe a love object's features.  Shakespeare turns that by saying what his love is not.

  • In the first stanza, the speaker says that the object of his love does not have eyes like the sun, red lips like coral, breasts as white as snow, and if hairs can be thought of as wires, hers are black wires.
  • In the second, his lover's cheeks are not like roses, and her breath does not smell as nice as perfumes do.
  • In three, her voice is nice, but not nearly as pleasing as music, and the speaker isn't sure what a goddess looks like when she walks, but his love just walks on the ground.
  • But, says the speaker in the couplet, his lover is just as rare as any she has been compared with by the use of misleading comparisons.

By the way, if Shakespeare is making fun of love poets, he is also making fun of himself, too.  He certainly was not above using a little hyperbole himself.

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tresvivace eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Sonnet 130 mocks the comparisons that were so often used to make unrealistic--but false--exaggerations about a loved one's beauty.  In each line the speaker tries to compare his lover to one of these usual sources of comparison (the sun, for example), but the lover always comes up short.  It is the couplet that makes the true statement of the speaker's love shine through.  He loves her more than if he were to make these false and unrealistic comparisons.  She's a real woman and he's happy with that.  You will find an excellent explanation of each stanza in the sources listed below.

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subrataray | Student

Shakespeare is a critic of his character and also of himself  in his writings .Sonnet -130 belongs to the series of the Dark -Lady,-the poet's mistress .The poet speaks the white-truth that , he finds no reason to put coating on his lady like the Italian and his contemporary sonneteers , who flatter their ladies with false adjective , and adverbs .

The poet begins his sonnet with conventional epithets ,as ,coral-colored-lip, snow-white-breast ,golden-wire-hair , rosy -cheek, etc , but implies them in an unconventional -way .For his mistress lacks all those natural -graces .Again he is not ready to accept the lady as an attribute of a goddess .

The poet unlocks the truth of he-man and she woman relationship .He finds life-force and vitality in the lady , and that is the miracle she does .