Shakespeare's Sonnet 18, and Swift's The Lady's Dressing Room, both include an individual discussing their lover, although on dissimilar plains of thought. Within Sonnet 18, the writer's beloved is compared to a summer's day, concluding that the companion is superior to the characteristics associated with summer. In contrast, The Lady's Dressing Room provides an analysis of the relationship between men and women through the character of Strephon. Shakespeare's Sonnet 18 primarily enforces the idealistic views of beauty, while Swift's The Lady's Dressing Room satirizes these perspectives. Each expresses these conceptualizations through the use of imagery, exaggeration, and through the ideas of the speaker.
Shakespeare's Sonnet 18 embodies the ideal perceptions of beauty through nature imagery. Shakespeare compares his subject to a summer's day using characteristics of summer, such as the sun and flowers, as the basis of his comparison. The image of flowers elicits thoughts of intricacy, and vibrance. Similarly, the sun is associated with brightness, warmth, and lustre. By comparing his beloved with such standards of beauty, and stating that these objects are inferior to the subject's attractiveness, Shakespeare creates the sense of his beloved's perfection.
Furthermore, through the use of natural imagery, Shakespeare alludes to the beloved's natural beauty. The subject's comparison to the darling buds of May and the eye of heaven suggests that the beloved possesses an attractiveness that reflects that of the natural environment. The aforementioned form of beauty within Sonnet 18 directly conflicts with the notions presented in The Lady's Dressing Room. This poem presents the realization of woman's manufactured beauty as the character of Strephon ventures into his beloved's dressing room. As a result, the objects within the room negatively influence Strephon's opinion of women. Swift uses negative imagery such as dirt, sweat, mucus, ear wax, and excretion to embellish the vileness of a woman's natural form.
In Shakespeare's Sonnet 18, the subject's beauty is exaggerated through terms of perfection and everlasting life in an attempt to display the ideal beauty. The speaker eagerly identifies the flaws of summer, but fails to recognize the imperfections of his beloved. Perfection is unattainable, yet the speaker attempts to capture the flawlessness of his subject by excluding their faults. The speaker also overemphasizes his beloved's beauty with the statement, thy eternal summer shall not fade (Shakespeare 9).
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