Faculty Publications & Research

Document Type

Book Chapter


Applied Ethics | English Language and Literature | Literature in English, British Isles


In the first session of my Introduction to Shakespeare course, I always teach one of Shakespeare's best-known sonnets: Sonnet 130, "My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun:' I open with this sonnet because students frequently think that they know what the poem is about. W hen I ask the class, someone will usually give me the most common misreading of the sonnet: the speaker tells his mistress that she does not look like other women, but he loves her all the same. Rather than dismissing this reading, I ask many questions. How did you reach this conclusion? What do you already know about Shakespeare that leads you to this conclusion? What do you know about sonnets? I explain that this type of reading, which asks the reader to focus on "the main idea;' is something that we have all been trained to do. We project what we already know about a text onto our reading of that text.


From Reading to Healing, Why Analyze a Sonnet? Avoiding Presumption through Close Reading

“Copyright © 2019 The Kent State University Press. All rights reserved. Permission to include in repository granted by The Kent State University Press.”


Available for download on Monday, July 22, 2019