Sir Thomas Wyatt

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Explore the themes of betrayal and unrequited love and the overall treatment of love with reference to Wyatt’s sonnet “Farewell Love and all thy Laws for ever.” Cite examples from the sonnet.

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In his sonnet “Farewell Love and all thy Laws for ever,” Thomas Wyatt includes the themes of betrayal and unrequited love within his larger treatment of Love as a person or an idea that will no longer concern him. In using direct address, or apostrophe, to speak to Love, Wyatt’s speaker may be equating Love with its ancient representation as Eros or Cupid, or they may be addressing a lover with whom they are breaking up. The identification with Cupid is supported by the mention of “brittle darts,” which may refer to the arrows that the god shoots into people that cause them to fall in love.

In the initial octet, the speaker says goodbye to Love, because they have been ill-treated and injured by its “hooks,” which “pricketh” them. These hooks are compared to Love’s rejection, or “sharp repulse.” The speaker sounds jaded and resigned to a loveless life, one that they say will now be filled with philosophy, represented by “Senec[a] and Plato.” The speaker claims they were wrong to believe in love, now seeing their involvement as “blind error.”

In the sestet, the speaker begins by again saying goodbye to Love, but this time implying that they have outgrown it, as Love should seek “younger hearts.” The speaker apparently feels they are too old for love, having wasted their time on it. However, they also imply that Love itself has not only aged but decayed, denigrating the search for love as climbing “rotten boughs.”

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