I. Sonnet 20

(1) A woman's face with nature's own hand painted,

(2) Hast thou, the master mistress of my passion;

(3) A woman's gentle heart, but not acquainted

(4) With shifting change, as is false women's fashion:

(5) An eye more bright than theirs, less false in rolling,

(6) Gilding the object whereupon it gazeth;

(7) A man in hue all hues in his controlling,

(8) Which steals men's eyes and women's souls amazeth.

(9) And for a woman wert thou first created;

(10) Till Nature, as she wrought thee, fell a-doting,

(11) And by addition me of thee defeated,

(12) By adding one thing to my purpose nothing.

(13) But since she prick'd thee out for women's pleasure,

(14) Mine be thy love and thy love's use their treasure.

II. Paraphrase

A woman's face, colored by Nature's own hand
Have you, the master/mistress of my desire;
You have a woman's gentle heart, but you are not prone
To fickle change, as is the way with women;
You have eyes brighter than their eyes, and more sincere,
Lighting up the very object that they look upon;
You are a man in shape and form, and all men are in your control,
You catch the attention of men and amaze women's souls [hearts]
You were originally intended to be a woman;
Until Nature, made a mistake in making you,
And by adding one extra thing [Nature] defeated me,
By adding one thing she has prevented me from fully having you,
But since Nature equipped for you women's pleasure
Let you body be their treasure, and let me have your love

III. Interpretation

This sonnet is often up for much scrutiny for being a testimonial of Shakespeare being a homsexual. In this sonnet, he speaks of a person that he is very fond of. He feels a connection to this person; mind body and soul, and wants nothing more than to share everything with them. However, with this perfect person, is one minor flaw, and that is this person is a man. Everything about them was perfect, except for this one mistake that nature made that prevents these two people from being together. The poems ends with the remedy of this mistake. Since he is a man, women can have him for pleasure. However, the speaker of this poem wishes to have his love.

 

 

IV. Works Cited

Mabillard, Amanda. An Analysis of Shakespeare's Sonnet 20. Shakespeare Online. 2000. (day/month/year you accessed the information) < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/sonnets/20detail.html >.