Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 130”, tells an interesting story of a man and his lover. Instead of doing as most do– compare their lover to all things godly– Shakespeare compares the woman to all things the exact opposite of godly. He uses satire to poke fun at the unrealistic comparisons many use when talking about their lovers. It seems as if he thinks very negative about the woman, until the end of the sonnet when he explains how his lover is as amazing as the other women with false comparisons, even though his lover is in the sense more real. The Sonnet Project NYC did a modern adaptation to Sonnet 130, which helps to further clarify the meaning of the sonnet. The video opens with a couple wandering through Central Park, in which the man begins to compare the woman’s eyes to the sun, when– what seems to be– a homeless man speaks up about how his mistress is nothing like that. This situation mirrors Shakespeare’s opening line, “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun”, perfectly. It shows how many will try to falsely compare their lover to things, mostly to sound more romantic and endearing. The homeless man cutting into the moment represents reality. Sonnet 130 uses satire to try to bring people back to reality and show them how ridiculous these “romantic” comparisons are. As eyes aren’t actually like the sun, the homeless man interrupts the couple to instill a sense of reality in them. The couple is the false comparisons and the homeless man is reality, both alluded to in Sonnet 130. The image of the homeless man represents that a godlike appearance isn’t what makes love special. It communicates the line, “And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare; As any she belied with false compare”, in which Shakespeare explains that his lover is as special as any women compared to those false things. A homeless, grungy man isn’t what most consider as the ideal version of a lover. Although he is discussing his lover, the image he portrays serves to show that love is more than skin deep. You don’t need to live up to the false comparisons many use or the godlike appearance presented in these comparisons to be a special person or have an amazing love.
Sonnet Project NYC – “Sonnet 130”
Sonnet 130 – Shakespeare (text)
My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red, than her lips red:
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound:
I grant I never saw a goddess go,
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
And yet by heaven, I think my love as rare,
As any she belied with false compare.