How might one interpret Shakespeare's Sonnet 150 ("O! from what power hast thou this powerful might,")?

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 150 in many ways echoes the paradoxical or anti-Petrarchan rhetoric of Sonnet 130 (“My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun”), albeit with somewhat less striking imagery. The main argument of Sonnet 150 is that  the beloved, rather than having the exemplary virtues of the subject of the Petrachan sonnet, in fact is unworthy of love, and that everything the lover discovers of the beloved should, in fact, make the lover despise the beloved. However, the power of love (or of the beloved to inspire love) is such that those things which ought to repel the lover attract the lover, and the lover’s vision becomes distorted. But, because the lover can love the beloved because of the beloved’s faults, so to should the beloved return the lover’s love, despite (or perhaps, because of) the lover’s faults.

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Shakespeare's Sonnets

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