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ACampolattano - Shakespeare Sonnet XX
[author: Alex Campolattano - postdate: 2007-10-23]

Text: Sonnet XX
Task: Textual analysis

Cultural: Learn about different sonnet forms
Intertextual: single out similarities and dissimilarities between sonnet models
Linguistic: improve writing skills



A woman's face with nature's own hand painted
Hast thou,
the master-mistress of my passion;
A woman's gentle heart, but not acquainted
With shifting change as is
false women's fashion;
An eye more bright than theirs, less false in rolling,
Gilding the object whereupon it gazeth;
A man in hue, all hues in his controlling,
Which steals men's eyes and women's souls amazeth.
And for a woman wert thou first created,
Till nature as she wrought thee fell a-doting,
And by addition me of thee defeated
By adding one thing to my purpose nothing.
But since she pricked thee out for women's pleasure,
Mine be thy love and thy love's use their treasure.

The sonnet hasn't got a title because it is part of a collection of sonnets and it is sonnet number twenty.

The poets says that the object of his passion was painted with the face of a woman by nature's hand. The character described by the poet contains both male and female aspects in a sigle individual "The Master Mistress of my passion".


Shakespeare says that the character of the sonnet has got the gentle heart of a woman but his heart is not used to shifting and changing the object of love as dow omen. His eyes are brighter than the ones of women and in addition they are less false because they do not roll around so often. His eyes make the object of his look nicer. His colour controls all hues, in fact he captures both all women's souls and men's eyes.


Nature first created him to be a woman till nature added something probably useless fora man, it is only useful for women's pleasure: the poet will love him forever.
In my opinion the topic of the sonnet is the perfection of the character's beauty and the poet expresses his love and passion for the charecter , who is seen as unattainable because his perfection.


Probably the character described in the sonnet might be the poet's patron, but being the character of the sonnet a  man, it might suggest a homosexual relationship.


In the sonnet there are features that make the character different from women: His gentle heart is not used to shifting and changing the object of love; and his eyes are brighter than the ones of women.


The poet uses the word eyes as part of the body. Eyes are very important also in the love described by some Italian poets like Guinizzelli.

The word "Guilding" makes me think of a superior thing , because gilding means to have the same colour of the most important metal.