“Sonnet 67” by Edmund Spencer and “Sonnet 130” by William Shakespeare are two very different poems which converge at a point of portrayal of the woman having the power over the man in a romantic relationship. These poems have different approaches in conveying this message to the reader. At times the power can be expressed subtly as seen in “Sonnet 67” or very boldly as seen in “Sonnet 130”. According to Freudian thought there is also a pre-consciousness in “Sonnet 67” and unconsciousness in “Sonnet 130”. These beliefs attribute to the fact that the woman has received her power by Nature and by Society.
Nature gives them this power because women are the gateway to existence. And although many might disagree with this fact, Society gives women power as well by idealizing women and setting the rule in stone that man has to love a woman. Contrary to popular belief Society and Nature merge together to form a truth of the woman’s power. In these poems the power of women is not an absolute truth, for if it were to be an absolute truth the man would have to directly acknowledge the fact that the women are in control.
Instead the authors of the poems indirectly hint to the fact that the woman has the power. These poems also convey the image that the beauty of women is not external, but it is based on their power to get to a man’s heart that makes them beautiful. The subtleness of Edmund Spenser’s “Sonnet 67” is best seen in the quatrain “Strange thing me seemed to see a beast so wild, / So goodly won with her own will beguiled” (13-14). Upon reading this line ones first thought would be that the hunter has actually overpowered the deer.
Upon analyzing this verse the reader realizes the naivety of the hunter, for he never actually realized the fact hat he is powerless to the hunting of the deer. The deer is overpowering the hunter “Like as a huntsman after weary chase” (1). In the moment where the hunter least suspects it the deer strikes with a deadly blow to the hunters ego. While the hunter takes a break, the deer appears to only provoke the hunter more by quenching her thirst at the brook while “beholding me (the hunter) with milder look” (9).
What the hunter does not understand is the power that the deer actually has. At the moment when the deer is no longer hunted she allows the man to believe that he has “so goodly won” this “beast so wild” (13-14). The boldness of William Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 130” is best seen in the verse “And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare / As any she belied with false compare” (13-14). The author is powerless over his emotions to his mistress. And although his “mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun” (1), he loves her. His logic appears to be completely irrational.
Throughout the poem he mentions all the flaws attributed to his mistress, and how he has more enjoyment from other objects, “And in some perfumes is there more delight / than in the breath that from my mistress reeks” (7-8). His heart seems to be in a trance for her love, because despite all he flaws he still loves her. The pre-consciousness of “Sonnet 67” as Freud would interpret is most clearly seen in the naturalistic aspect of the poem. The following verse demonstrates the power women are given by nature “There she beholding me with milder look, / Sought not to fly, but fearless still did bide” (9-10).
The unconsciousness of “Sonnet 130” is seen throughout the poem. The character in the poem is under the unconscious thought process that he has to love a woman which has been instilled in his values by society. Although his reasons for love are admirable, the common man would not justify his love by all the images that she falls short of, like “I love to hear her speak, yet well I know / That music hath a far more pleasing sound” (9-10). Nonetheless the synthesis of Nature and Society come together in such a way that demonstrates the power a woman has over man.
All through “Sonnet 67” and “Sonnet 130” The characters never directly acknowledge the fact that the woman is in control. There is no absolute truth in these poems. Rather as seen in “Sonnet 67”, “So after long pursuit and vain assay, / When I all weary had the chase forsook, / The gentle dear returned the self-same way. ” (5-7) and as seen in “Sonnet 130” “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” (11-14) does the reader realize the fact that in actuality the woman is in control.
The character in “Sonnet 130” had no reason to love his mistress, and it is very appropriate that her external features gave him no pleasure because this makes a bold statement that love is not based on beauty. His love towards her was true “And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare / As any she belied with false compare” (13-14). All of her shortcomings are false to determine the real beauty contained within her. In “Sonnet 67” there is no reference made to beauty. Based on this absence of any reference to beauty the reader can deduct that beauty has no significance to real love.
In “Sonnet 67” and “Sonnet 130” the authors portray the woman as having the power in a romantic relationship. Although each accomplishes this in very different approaches, each poem gets its point across. The Freudian aspect contributes to the fact that the woman has received her power by nature and by society. Although the power of a woman is this poem is not an absolute truth, Spenser and Shakespeare both acknowledge in their own way the fact that the woman is in control. These poems also convey the image that the beauty of a woman is internal.