Monday, September 27, 2010

Coming to Terms with Reality

Reality is a reoccurring theme in “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun”, “One Word”, and “When I consider how my light is spent”. In each of the pieces of literature, the narrator acknowledges the reality of their situation. William Shakespeare explains that his love is not defined by external things, such as beauty, but by something much deeper. Elizabeth Gilbert is trying to discover a word she can identify with during a confusing and complex time in her life. John Milton speculates about God’s compassion for his blindness.

William Shakespeare’s sonnet, “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun”, describes the reality of his lover. She is not as beautiful to be compared to things such as the sun, snow, roses, or sweet perfume. He is aware that other men use these false comparisons to describe their lovers but he believes that their exaggeration is not necessary. He says his love is “rare”, meaning that he appreciates his mistress for the person she is. He doesn’t love her for her beauty or any other superficial aspects of a woman that is the cause of most men’s desires. His love for her has depth and reality.

Elizabeth Gilbert’s “One Word”, an excerpt from her memoirs Eat, Pray, Love, tells about the inner struggle she is experiencing. Her friend teaches her that most things have one word that describes them. Rome’s word was sex, NYC’s was achieve, and LA’s was succeed. When her friend asked, “What is your word?”, the narrator is forced to reflect on her life. She describes her adventure to the lingerie store as dreamlike. When she steps out of the boutique, she realizes she doesn’t know why she bought those scandalous items. Reality has come over her. She is trying to discover who she is and why she’s trying to be someone else. She’s trying to find her “word”.

In John Milton’s sonnet, “When I consider how my light is spent”, he questions what God expects of him. Milton had gone blind four years previous to writing this poem. Due to his blindness, he wonders if God will demand the same of him as he did before. When Patience answers, “God doth not need either man’s work or His own gifts. Who best bear his mild yoke, they serve Him best.”(lines 9-11), Milton realizes that God will accept him for everything he is. He need not try to be flawless; he needs to only be himself.

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