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Portrayals of Love

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Portrayals of Love

Love, whether it be in novels, plays, poems or movies, is always given an unrealistic portrayal. Confessions of love are mixed with metaphors comparing a woman's physical appearance to that of natural beauties, and never going beyond that. In turn these comparisons make is seem as though if a woman does not possess these ridiculous traits or physical resemblances, then she is neither beautiful nor worthy of loving. These declarations of love and beauty idolize the “perfect” and “flawless” woman, therefore leaving the rest to be seen as subpar. This idea that love has to meet these unreachable standards to be considered real furthers the point. Shakespeare's sonnet 130, “Dark Lady”, mocks the idea and writings of those who over exaggerate their affections in order to say that average is just as good. In Much Ado About Nothing it is easy to see the difference between these two types/ideas of love and beauty from the experience of Beatrice with Benedick compared to Hero with Claudio.

Sonnet 130 takes the ideas presented in writings of love from the Elizabethan time period and questions the cliches they present. It was common for poems about love to be written according to these cliche standards and if the metaphors that were used were to be taken literally they would be ridiculous. If your mistress's eye were like the sun then staring into them for too long, as a couple in love would normally do, surely would physically blind you. Shakespeare notes this and uses this sonnet as a response to those ideas. His mistress may not have lips as red as coral, roses upon her cheeks and breath that smells of perfume but that is fine with him. Shakespeare instead chooses to take these unrealistic standards and write from the point of view of someone who has a more realistic take and tells the truth with no over exaggerations to cover it. In the couplet Shakespeare mockery of poetic love is brought to a conclusion with “And yet by heaven, I think my love as rare, As any she belied with false compare.” (130.13-14). Shakespeare makes it clear that even though his mistress possess none of these resemblances to natural beauties, he loves her just as much. Though his love does not reach the standards it is just as real and a woman does not need to resemble the sun or flowers to be considered beautiful.

In Much Ado About Nothing the over exaggerated love, or courtly love, is represented between Hero and Claudio. Like the poems Shakespeare was mocking with sonnet 130, both Claudio and Hero are enamoured by the others physical appearances with Claudio comparing Hero to a jewel that even the world



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