My Mistress’ Eyes are Nothing like the Sun

My Mistress’s Eyes are Nothing Like the Sun is one of Shakespeare’s poems that demonstrates that love does not have to depict the picture of the important beauty that people remember. The sonnet is funny because the poet expresses his own feelings and maintains that love does not need imitation to be genuine and that females do not need to imitate the sun or flowers to be beautiful (Bearden 32). The speaker spends most of the poem comparing his lover’s presence to many other objects. Furthermore, Shakespeare goes through a laundry list of descriptions explaining her flaws in her scent, body, and expression. However, the tone changes at the end and depicts his actual and full love for the mistress. The major themes of the poem are appearance and love while the literary elements include irony, imagery and symbolism as well as the tone.


The rhetorical structure of sonnet is significant to its impact. In the initial quatrain, the writer spends single line on every comparison between his lover and something else such as snow, wires, sun, and coral (Kennedy and Gioia 121). In the third and second quatrains, Shakespeare extends the description to occupy double lines so that to pair the words such as cheeks and roses, music and voice as well as perfume and breath can have unrhymed lines. The pairing establishes the impact of developing and expanding the argument and prevents the poem from going out of the major themes (Shakespeare, Love Sonnets of Shakespeare. 41).



The poem is the expression of love and requirements that one has to examine, define and talk about concerning real affection. Besides, the poem is partly about what motivates his love, where affection comes from and what influences the feeling of fondness towards someone else (Claridge, Rimkeit, and Taylor 42). The writer speaks about the true love than denoting lover’s physical perfection or angelic voice. Since the physical traits fade with time, the speaker exclaims his true love by describing her character that made his love. Shakespeare proposes that the eyes of the lady he loves are not twinkling like the sun and hair like wires (Shakespeare, 7). The compliments seem to be negative and unloving, but he proves that the women outdistance all goddess. The description of the mistress shows that the writer appreciates human beauties rather than associating love with physical traits.

The poem offers the genuine expression of love by describing the natural lady. According to the poem, people should know what motivates their love rather than admiring the outer beauty. Every person is beautiful regardless of the physical characteristics and affection does not depend on the outward expression (Claridge, Rimkeit, and Taylor 31). Individuals often make sure that they in love and demand to know the reason why they are treasured. The poet wants people to think how to answer questions about why they love. If a gentleman responds to the question of why he loves his mistress by picking particular attributes such as figure or face, she will be dissatisfied with the answer (Kennedy and Gioia 54). Loving a person due to her physical beauty is not the real love described by Shakespeare. Based on the flow and content of the poem, Shakespeare displays the deeper love that is beyond physical affections. To discover the purposes of why two individuals love each other, they have to move beyond the bodily attributes that they favor and view the person within the aspect of personal sense (Bearden 67). The theme of love in the poet insists that the physical characteristic diminishes with time which means the love can also fade. We should teach ourselves to embrace the true love that does not end by going beyond the bodily traits to the recognition of personality and accepting the nature of different people.


Appearance is also a major theme in the poet given that the speaker talks more about what is wrong with his lover’s look. Further, there is a full dissection of her body, smell, and face but does not indicate anything regarding the personality. Through the description of the body appearances, the poet had the chance of poking fun with looks and illustrates how it is ridiculous to ask any person the match of some ideal of appropriate beauty (Kennedy and Gioia 74). The sonnet is about women beauty and people expectation as well as stereotypes about the way female ought to appear. Individuals tend to acknowledge women beauty by comparing them to the lady magazines which fit into a very narrow definition. The speaker of the poem implies that love poetry tries to compare women attractiveness with natural thing hence making them goddesses rather than human beings (Bearden 97). The idea of beauty or female appearance does not fit unrealistic fantasy.

Symbolism and Imagery

The poem is full of imagery and symbolism since it uses different features and things such the eyes, mistress, lips, breasts, hair, cheeks, a way of walking and voice to express the themes of appearance and love. The imagery of the couplet centers on the beauty of the mistress. However, the metaphors are opposite of the predictable pictures that one would expect in the poem. Foremost, each line in the poem refers to the mistress by describing various physical appearances. The speaker tells us different things about her such as skin, hair, voice, and way of walking (Shakespeare, 9). In general, the descriptions make the mistress looks more like a real person. On the start of the sonnet, the eyes are illustrated not to resemble the sun which symbolizes how they are cool and dull.

Further, Shakespeare uses the red coral image to compare the lips of the mistress. Lips seem to be some of the standard things that are attributed to the beauty of women. For instance, men focus on the lips and other physical things such as breasts, eyes, and skin when approaching a woman. The reason of having lips in the poem was to illustrate how people break ladies into section so that to praise their beauty which is not a motivation of true love. The lips that are red must be painted which symbolizes fake beauty and love that the poem is condemning (Bearden 41). The black wires symbolize the hair that is not good although the speaker confirms to love his lady. The choice of rose imagery is perfect because the white and red roses that are damasked are multicolored. The red color symbolizes love and emphasizes on true real affection that is expected in the society.


Irony reflects on the sonnet since all the descriptions that the speaker utilizes on the mistress are unattractive. Moreover, the writer states the positive comparison and explains how the attribute does not fit the woman. For instance, the hairs are said to be wires, and the black wires develop on the head (Shakespeare, 7). To the majority of people, dull colored skins and cheeks, as well as hair like wires is not appealing. The majority of readers expect the unattractive traits to push men away from ladies, but the speaker describes how he cares about her regardless of the look. Shakespeare uses irony to look beyond the physical descriptions which are not good and basis his love to her personality and uniqueness. The tone of the poem is sarcastic because the points are exaggerated. The mistress has flaws, but the speaker depicts that he still loves her because she is unique and rare to find (Claridge, Rimkeit, and Taylor 124).


Conclusively, the sonnet proves that deeper parts and hidden appearances are the most important characteristics that deserve love and beauty. Shakespeare made the poem straightforward given that he wanted individuals to understand what is required in real love and the rationale of getting into a relationship. The speaker does not falsely compare his mistress with natural things because the physical characteristics fade. True love does not view woman based on the outlooks but according to the interior features that do not diminish and cannot be affected by the physical environment. Lastly, the poem is made simple for the reader to recognize the importance of not exaggerating the beauty of women via bodily traits because they are made and do not last for a long time.

Work Cited

Bearden, Roy White. Literary Traditions: A Reader for English 1302. Lubbock, Tex.: South Plains College, 2014. Print.

Claridge, Gillian, Sally Rimkeit, and E. Mervyn Taylor. Poetry for the Restless Heart: Classic Poems of Nature, Love, Life and Laughter. Wellington: Dovetale Press, 2016. Print.

Kennedy, X. J, and Dana Gioia. Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing. Boston: Pearson, 2013. Print.

Shakespeare, William. Love Sonnets of Shakespeare. New York: Running Press, 2014. Print.

Shakespeare, William. My Mistress’ Eyes Are Nothing like the Sun … Toronto: N. Adams, 1975. Print.

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