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Sonnet Analysis – Fair Is My Love, by Edmund Spenser

This sonnet is an anti-love poem that ironically shows how the fairness of a lady is contingent upon nature’s blessings and her external manifestations. The Spenserian style brings unity to this sonnet, in that it’s theme and rhyme is interwoven throughout, but the focus of her “fairness” is divided into an octave and a sestet. The first eight lines praise her physical features (hair, cheeks, smile), while the last six lines praise her internal features (words, spirit, heart). This sonnet intentionally hides the speaker’s ridicule behind counterfeit love-language, using phrases like: “fair golden hairs” (line 1), and “rose in her red cheeks” (line 3), and “her eyes the fire of love does spark” (line 4). This traditional love language fills pages of literature and song, and has conventionally been used to praise the attributes of a lover; but this sonnet betrays such language by exhibiting a critique rather than commendation. This sonnet appears to praise the beauty of a lady but ironically ridicules her by declaring that her “fairness” is contingent upon nature, physical features, and displaying a gentle spirit, which hides her pride.

The first line begins: “Fair is my love, when ” (line 1), and it’s an idea that is shown five times in the sonnet (see lines 1,3,5,7,9). At first glance, many readers will find this phrase to be quite endearing, but the speakers actual intent is to prove over and over again that her “fairness” is contingent “when” certain events happen. For example, she is fair “when her fair golden hairs. . . [are] waiving” (lines 1-2); and “when the rose in her red cheeks appears” (line 3); and “[when] her eyes the fire of love does spark” (line 4). The poet is very precise in using the term “fair” which …

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…eems more astonishing.

This sonnet mocks this woman by pretending to praise her, all the while proving that her fairness is contingent upon certain external manifestations. The fact that the beloved has a “gentle sprite” does not matter much because she is prideful. The subtle language of the sonnet hides the speaker’s ridicule, just as her smile hides her pride. The author uses economic, oceanic, and nautical imagery to show how her fairness is merely revealed through temporal circumstances, and never makes mention that she is “fair” alone. The ridiculing nature of this sonnet is greatly revealed through the repeated term “Fair, when,” and through the central phrase: that her “cloud of pride, which oft doth dark” (line 7).

Work Cited Fair Is My Love, by Edmund Spenser

Hamlet and Where are You Going, Where have you Been?

Mr. Wrong in Hamlet and Where are You Going, Where have you Been?

This essay will consider how the character Gertrude from Hamlet and the character Connie from “Where are You Going, Where have you Been?” both end up with the wrong man. The essay will compare how these “wrong men” were alike and why Gertrude and Connie may have fallen for them.

Gertrude was married to someone else when she fell for Claudius. The play indicates that he started wooing her long before Hamlet’s father was dead, hence their getting married so quickly after his death. “Within a month, ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears had left the flushing in her galled eyes, she married.” Connie was single when Arnold Friend approached her, but she had been out on dates with other boys, such as Eddie at the drive-in. Arnold wasn’t the first young man who ever paid attention to her. In both cases, Gertrude and Connie chose the worse man when they had something better. This is obvious in Gertrude’s case. The Ghost says so: “What a falling off was there…to decline upon a wretch whose natural gifts were poor to those of mine,” and Hamlet says so to her face: “Could you on this fair mountain leave to feed and batten on this moor?” Gertrude does not protest that statement. With Connie, we find out that the other boys she went out with were nice, sweet and gentle, and Connie really liked them. “Her mind slipped over onto thoughts of the boy she had been with the night before and how nice he had been, how sweet it always was…the way it was in movies and promised in songs.” Gertrude, also, seemed to really like Hamlet’s father, at least at one time. “Why, she would hang on him as if increase of appetite had grown by what it fed on,” said Hamlet. Both had…

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…nt at what kind of man Claudius was, whereas we know Connie did have some hint.

In the end, Gertrude ends up dying as a result of her wrong choice and her naivete, and Connie most likely does also. Their naivete ends up becoming their fatal flaw. Gertrude’s bad judgement may also have helped bring about the death of all the others, because if she had refused Claudius’ advances maybe none of this would have happened. If Connie had called the police, maybe Arnold Friend would have been caught and put in jail. At the very least, if she had not gone with him, at least her family wouldn’t have lost their daughter. Both bring destruction not only upon themselves but upon others as well because of their gullibility.

Works Cited:

Korb, Rena. “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” Short Stories for Students. Ed. Kathleen Wilson. Vol. 1. Detroit: Gale, 1997.

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