Shakespeare's Sonnets by William Shakespeare

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Compare and contrast Shakespeare's Sonnet 80 and Sonnet 130.   

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Both sonnets 80 and 130 by Shakespeare are commenting on and describing another person. In the case of the former, it is another poet who is clearly famous; in the case of the latter, it is an obscure mistress.

Shakespeare presents the poet as grand, successful and "tall" while he counts himself shallow and "tongue tied when speaking of your fame." Yet his meaning, apparently praise, is really to denigrate.

Sonnet 130 presents a mistress, whom Shakespeare describes as homely in every respect: her "eyes are nothing like the sun" and her hairs are lie "black wires [that] grow on her head." Yet, by the end of the poem, it's clear that the author loves her despite her many faults, and his meaning is to praise her.

In Sonnet 80, the opposite is true. Though Shakespeare praises his rival, he secretly dismisses him. In line two he says, "knowing a better spirit doth use your name" meant to say "better than Shakespeare" but also implying the use of a name, rather than embodying the name. By the...

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