Growing up in the digital world I always opted for sources like spark notes to help me bluff my way through school assignments. I was convinced all plays and poems were irrelevant and were an unnecessary part of high school education. It wasn’t until I read William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet that I was converted. I became an addict. I was hooked by the art of his words. They flowed through my veins. I was amazed at how relatable his stories were – he broadened my thinking. Convinced nothing could beat the smooth words of Hamlet I pursued reading different genres of his writing.
I was wrong. I found sonnets to be beautifully written and once again I became enthralled in his writing. With the wide variety of authors from Michael Drayton to John Donne, I was sure that they couldn’t be accurate and relevant in today’s society. Specifically Sonnet 130 and Sonnet 61 proved me wrong, again and showed me that literature will always be a mode of expression that will carry the values and attitudes of people, no matter the era. As a teenager growing up in the digital world; I have been shaped to think in a particular way.
The media, especially women’s magazines, place pressure on me (and I’m sure many other girls) to look and act in a particular way. The topic explored in Sonnet 130 by Shakespeare spoke to me on a deep and personal level. He tells us how he loves a woman even though he is aware she isn’t perfect. There is so much peer pressure at school to be perfect and this particular Shakespearean sonnet could lend a comforting shoulder for girls my age to rest on. Comparing his mistresses features to concepts of life, Shakespeare wrote; “my mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun” and “if hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
This transcendent similie stirred love and passion within me. His passion for this woman was clearly unequal to any other woman he had encountered. She was to him more than the sun, which gave life. Shakespeare is aiming to mock the other poets who place this stereotypical expectations on their women, but within Sonnet 130 the underlying message state that not all women are perfect. This made me feel at ease, I was calmed by the thought that someone could feel for me the way Shakespeare felt for his mistress.
He saw beauty where no one else saw beauty. Women today always undervalue themselves because they are constantly comparing their features to photo-shopped celebrities in the media. Women should look to Shakespeare. Hundreds of years later the message still hits home. It has a power to speak to Australians and tell them that they are worth more than what they think. No matter what era they are in, women will be trapped into thinking they have to follow a code of conduct and physical criteria to be ‘acceptable’.
I’m so infuriated by the fact that in todays society there are so many rules women have to follow! Look this way, talk this way, act this way. It’s so hard to keep up with the stereotypes and within a culture that strives for perfection. This culture insists that men should and can have ridiculously high standards of a woman’s appearance. But then Sonnet 130 comes into my life like a breath of fresh air. I’m taken into a World where not all men have these crazy expectations and I realize I can’t possibly achieve every single person’s idea of perfect.
How could that be possible; for me, or for anyone else? I truly feel men could learn a thing or two from Shakespeare words, as the morals found within this sonnet still relate to women today. They need to know they can’t expect women to be flawless. We aren’t perfect and they aren’t either. (insert quote in this paragraph) (what is the theme) While Sonnet 130 was a heart opening and life altering experience, Sonnet 61 focuses on heartbreak and regret. Michael Drayton writes how he left a woman and then realized his mistakes – possibly too late.
He left me with uncertainty. Did she take him back? This is the question I asked myself. It took away some of the light which Sonnet 130 had lent me. In my experience he reinforced my ideas that boys are untrustworthy and indecisive. Women and girls have experienced or will experience a similar heartbreak in their lifetime. I have no doubt. These men who break their hearts make them think all men and boys are the same. I even though to myself, ‘ah the dreaded ‘B’ word… BOYS! ’ Generally boys don’t know what they want.
One day they want to love you then the next they can’t stand you. They are so confusing. Sonnet 61 Michael Drayton captures the confusing thoughts of himself and other males alike. His thought process ranging from ‘I don’t want you anymore’ to ‘I miss you, I didn’t know what I had till I lost it. Please take it back’. He threw his relationship away with the words; Since there’s no help, come let us kiss and part; Nay, I have done, you get no more of me, This doesn’t last long because he quickly showed his change of heart with these regretful and depressing words;
And when we meet at any time again, Be it not seen in either of our brows That we one jot of former love retain. Where he states he loved her but cannot be with her. Conflicted by his feelings Drayton cannot make up his mind. Men are still like this in today’s society. Dealing with boys that are constantly suffering from the temptation of other women, I’m sure that women find this poem incredibly accurate and mutually agree that Drayton is so incredibly similar to modern men as he acts pathetically.
Men in today’s society could learn from the words of a timeless sonnet. Even though the poet was so tragic, it was because he decided to throw away his relationship rather than work on it. This is similar to so many other men who don’t want to work hard at a relationship. I look for someone who is willing to put as much into a relationship as I do. Even though these pieces of writing can be interpreted in many different ways, I think they have important messages for men and women.
It doesn’t matter how old these sonnets are because the meaning they hold is so dear to the lives of people. It’s easy to realise that nothing has changed and that humans will always have mutual feelings towards love, death and beauty. But will our generation ever learn? Will they ever confess their love to someone even though they find them imperfect? Will they fight for the person they love despite struggle? Maybe after ready some traditional literature they will change the way they think. Or maybe not; we all know that mistakes in history are constantly repeated.